Written by Jeanne Birdsall, Illustrated by Jane Dyer
Lucky and Squash were next-door neighbors and best friends. But there was a locked gate between them, so they never could play together properly.
The plot in a nutshell: Two dogs play matchmaker so they can be brothers
Lucky is the pet of Mr. Bernard and Squash is the pet of Miss Violet. They muse that, if their owners fell in love and got married, they would be brothers and get to play together all the time. But both of their owners are shy, so the dogs devise a plan to run away together, so their owners will come after them and meet up. They dig under their fence and take off for the beach, leaving clues for their owners. They have a wonderful time at the beach and at the end of the day, Mr. Bernard and Miss Violet find them and are so happy to see them that they don’t notice each other. Next, they run away to the city, again leaving clues. This time, when their owners show up, they smile at each other. Lucky and Squash, pleased with their progress, run away to the forest next and are so tired (from their previous days’ adventures) that they both fall asleep. When they wake up, they are under attack from a giant bear. But Mr. Bernard and Miss Violet show up then and work together to scare the bear away. The two owners strike up a conversation, fall in love and get married and they all live happily together after that.
Author Jeanne Birdsall is perhaps best known for her Penderwick book series. This book is a collaboration between the author and her friend, illustrator Jane Dyer. Lucky is based on Scuppers, a Tibetan Terrier who lives with Ms. Dyer and Squash is modeled on Cagney, Ms. Birdsall’s Boston Terrier. In real life, the two dogs are best friends and play together often. A photograph of Scuppers and Cagney is included on the book’s back cover and the book is dedicated to both dogs.
I thoroughly enjoyed the silly fun of this book and laughed a lot while reading it. The story doesn’t take itself too seriously, so the reader is encouraged to do the same. Certainly the artwork helps with this, featuring very funny pictures of the dogs building sand castles and riding in a carriage in Central Park. And yes, for those who are familiar with picture book author/illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka, he was indeed the model for Mr. Bernard, being a friend and neighbor of Ms. Birdsall and Ms. Dyer.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that sometimes you have to try multiple times (and face some scary obstacles) before you reach your goal.