Title: Mister Dog
Author/Illustrator: Margaret Wise Brown, Garth Williams
Reviewed by: Mark
You would think that a book entitled Mister Dog that had a dog with a bowtie and straw hat smoking a pipe on its cover would be about a dog named Mister Dog, but this book isn't. The dog's name is Crispin's Crispian because he belongs to himself. You'd actually think that the dog's name would be Crispi*a*n's Crispian, or maybe Crispian's Crispian Dog (Mister Dog) but it's not. Perhaps Ms Wise Brown alludes to William Shakespeare's Henry V's passage ("This story shall the good man teach his son; And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by") but the story is already random enough and trying to read into it always hurts my sleep-deprived brain.
Anyhow, Crispian befriends a boy, who isn't called boy's boy BTW, and after a creepy exchange, they move into Crispian's two-story dog house:
"I am Crispin's Crispian and I belong to myself," said Crispian. "Who and what are you?"
"I am a boy, " said the boy, "and I belong to myself."
"I am so glad," said Crispin's Crispian. "Come and live with me."
Crispian also likes to refer to himself in the third person:
They went to a butcher shop-"to get his poor dog a bone," Crispian said. Now, since Crispin's Crispian belonged to himself, he gave himself the bone and trotted home with it.
Then story goes on for a bit, and it ends as a bedtime story reminiscent of "Goodnight Moon". Perhaps if I read this book enough to my daughter, she'll become an English major and figure this one out for me.
[ed. note: I'm pretty sure the 'Henry V' reference is just a coincidence, given how commonplace the phrase 'Crispin Crispian' is, I mean.]