________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 17. . . .April 17, 2009.


Farley Follows His Nose.

Lynn Johnston & Beth Cruikshank. Illustrated by Lynn Cruikshank.
New York, NY: The Bowen Press (Distributed in Canada by HarperCollins Canada), 2009.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.99.
ISBN 978-1-55468-518-9.

Subject Heading:

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.





Farley LOVED children.

But the children were too busy to play with him.

Except for one little boy, who was sitting all alone.

Farley licked his face.

The boy gave Farley his hot dog. And some popcorn. And a big piece of cake with green and yellow icing.

internal artFor some three decades, Lynn Johnson has been delighting adult readers of the comics section of their daily newspaper with her strip, For Better or Worse. Though human characters have carried the principal storylines of Johnson’s comic strip, Johnson now uses the strip’s family pet, Farley, an Old English sheepdog, to introduce herself to a much younger reading audience. In Farley Follows His Nose, Farley’s very sensitive nose, combined with his seemingly forever hungry stomach, combine to make him an accidental hero.

     Following an outdoor bath one summer morning, Farley, who was now hungry from having been bathed, smelled on the breeze the odors of:

rosesfreshcutgrasssweatypeoplethecatnextdoor and ....HOT DOGS! Lured by the smell of hot dogs, a collarless Farley escapes from his yard and runs down the street where his nose, in addition to the smell of hot dogs, picks up the odors of “applejuicelemoncakepopcorn....”

     The ever-hungry Farley crashes a children’s birthday party where he is ignored by all the children with the exception of one young boy (see the excerpt). However, Farley’s uninvited presence is detected by the boy’s mother who chases him out of the yard. Throughout the rest of the day, Farley’s stomach, assisted by his nose, directs him to another source of food, and then to a child’s wading pool for a drink and an impromptu bath. A wet, but now satiated, Farley then takes a nap in “a bed of soft dirt.” Upon waking in the early evening, Farley, while following more food smells, happens upon a little boy crying in the park. From the odors associated with the little boy, Farley recognizes him from the first food incident of the day. Though the tearful boy says, “I’m lost doggie!...It’s dark and I’m scared and I want to go home”, Farley takes no meaning from the boy’s words and so has no understanding of the boy’s situation. However, Farley does have the olfactory memories from earlier in the day, and with stomach-led dog logic, he concludes, “Maybe there were more hot dogs, lemon cake, and popcorn at the little boy’s house!” Literally following his nose, Farley leads the boy home, but there is no food to be had. Picking up the odor of pizza, Farley happens upon the car of Uncle Phil who says, “Farley, you big mutt. Where have you been? We’ve been looking all over town for you.” He then takes Farley home where Farley found his “supper waiting in his dish.” In a nice concluding touch, it is Farley’s owner’s nose that now comes into play:

Then Elly sniffed the air.

“Peeee-YEWWWWW,” Elly said.

“Farley, you need a BATH!”

     Cleverly, authors Johnson and Cruikshank have chosen to see the world through a dog’s eyes (and nose), and they appropriately avoid doing the Lassie-hero scenario. As well, by running the various odors together via run-on words, the authors underline how sensitive dogs’ noses really are. (Note: In the original text, to assist readers, each word within a run-on word is shown in a different colour.)

     Farley Follows His Nose is a most amusing read, and hopefully young readers will be treated to further adventures of this loveable dog that is based on a dog Lynn Johnston once owned.

     According to a publicity release, “A portion of the proceeds from this book benefit the Farley Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping provide essential veterinary services for pets whose owners do not have the means to pay these costs.” More information about the Farley Foundation can be found at www.farleyfoundation.org

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, who follows the happenings of For Better or Worse in the pages of the Winnipeg Free Press, is CM’s editor.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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