________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 21. . . .January 31, 2014


Tails Don’t Lie: A Decade of Dog Cartoons. (70 in Dog Years).

Adrian Raeside.
Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publishing, 2013.
127 pp., trade pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 978-155017-599-8.

Subject Headings:
Dogs-Caricatures and cartoons.
Canadian wit and humor, Pictorial.

Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

***½ /4



In his “Introduction” to Tails Don’t Lie, Raeside explains: “Compiled from ten years of The Other Coast comic strip, Tails Don’t Lie is a collection of cartoons on all things doggy– a sideways look at the shedding, drooling, farting, bed-hogging, hairy contradictions we share our lives with.” This cartoon collection is dedicated “To Koko and Sakura – who have both passed over to the Rainbow Bridge, where I’m sure Sakura is chasing anyone bigger than herself and Koko has found a warm flowerbed to sleep in.” If the term “Rainbow Bridge” seems familiar, that’s because Raeside is also the author of The Rainbow Bridge: A Visit to Pet Paradise in which a seven-year-old boy copes with the death of his dog, Koko.

internal art     Sakura, a Papillon, and Koko, a Border Collie (mixed with some other breeds, evidently), feature in a great many of the cartoons. Most pages contain three full-colour cartoons, with the humour in each cartoon being revealed in one to four panels. Occasionally, a page will have two six-panel cartoons that are used to tell a longer funny “story”. (Think daily newspaper strip vs. longer weekend cartoon strip.) Sometimes Raeside has the dog-related humour being told from the perspective of humans, other times from a dog’s point of view and, in still other cases, from both perspectives.

internal art      Raeside’s cartoons reveal that he is definitely an excellent observer of dog behaviour, but they also show his ability to view the world (especially humans) through canine eyes. While still maintaining a sense of humour, Raeside occasionally uses his art to comment on some of the negative treatment of dogs, including their abandonment (and the positive flip side, animal shelters and adoption), puppy mills, choke collars, tail docking and non-exercise.

internal art      In public libraries, newspaper cartoon collections usually end up being shelved in the adult collection while school libraries with a narrow curriculum focus in their collection development often won’t purchase them at all. But dogs (and other pets) are vital parts of children’s life and development. A sense of responsibility and caring, experiencing unconditional love and a one-way sharing of secrets, plus experiencing and dealing with (often first) grief are just some of the benefits a child receives from having a pet. Consequently, from time to time, public libraries need to temporarily move some of their cartoon books to the children’s/YA sections while school libraries need to loosen the curriculum purse strings and provide some humour and life connections via books like Tails Don’t Lie.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, has shared his Winnipeg, MB, home (and couch) with many dogs through the years.

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

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