________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 32. . . .April 23, 2010


C’mere, Boy!

Sharon Jennings. Illustrated by Ashley Spires.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2010.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-55453-440-1.

Subject Heading:
Dogs-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Gregory Bryan.

**½ /4



Dog wanted a boy. He asked his mama, “Can we get a boy? Can we? Please? Can we?”

Dog’s mama looked around the doghouse and said, “We don’t have room for a boy. And who would take care of him?”

Sharon Jennings and Ashley Spires’ imaginative collaboration, C’mere, Boy! is a fun story about a young dog who wants a pet boy. The playful variation on the traditional “boy wants a dog” theme will appeal to young children who want a pet of their own and will likely tickle the funny bone of parents whose resistance is gradually being worn down by their children’s constant pleas of “please, please, please.” Dog’s search for a boy to call his own is not without its dramas and dangers. Eventually, when things look to have taken a turn for the worse, Dog finds a boy to his liking.

    internal artJennings and Spires seem both to have active imaginations and well developed senses of humour. Spires’ illustrations include depictions of the interior of a doghouse where a chewed-up shoe sits on the floor. Proudly mounted on the wall is a stick which appears to be ideal for playing “fetch.” The toy basket is overflowing with things like balls and bones and other such chew toys. In one outdoor scene, Dog’s mother is down on her knees, working in the garden with a hand trowel in a scene reminiscent of any of countless garden scenes that are played out across Canada during the growing season. What makes this scene different is that, rather than planting a flower bed or vegetable garden, Mama Dog is burying a bone. Not to be outdone for laughs, Jennings’ text includes references to Dog teaching Boy “how to stoop and scoop” after Dog enjoyed a bathroom break. When Dog first met Boy, Dog nuzzled the boy’s hand, licked the boy’s face and, of course, “Dog sniffed Boy’s bum.” It is a funny book that demonstrates creativity, humour, and an interesting way of thinking about the relationships that we have with our pets.

     In this book, there is much that is well done; however, I was distracted by a change that occurs partway through. In the early pages, the book seems set in a dog’s world. As described above, the illustrations include depictions of the decorated interior of a doghouse. Dog and his mother create a shopping list, and there is an illustration of the interior of a dog supermarket. Mama Dog pushes a shopping trolley alongside a well-stocked shelf of various packaged and tinned dog foods. As such, when Dog went to Obedience School, I expected that the teacher would be a dog. I found it confusing that the teacher is human. From that point forward, the book seems to change to one in which dogs are portrayed within a human world. The “Posh Pooch Spa” beauty salon workers are humans (attending to dogs), and a human dog catcher drives a vehicle. While I can accept the decorated interior of a doghouse (after all, how many of us have squeezed inside a doghouse to see what it looks like in there?), the dog supermarket scene seems not to be consistent with the rest of the book. As a reader, this was a distraction and, in reading ahead, I found myself thinking back and trying to figure out what I had interpreted as an inconsistency. I had another individual read the book and then asked her what she thought. She identified the same problem as I had, saying that it was a problem that the editor should have caught. She asked, “Just where is the dog supermarket supposed to be?” Despite this problem, C’mere, Boy! is a book that children and parents (and, perhaps, the family dog) will generally enjoy.

Recommended with reservations.

Gregory Bryan is a professor of children’s literature in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba.

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

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