Written by Madelyn Rosenberg, Illustrated by Heather Ross
Katherine Tegen Books, 2015
First, you fill out the form.
Before you go to the dog show, you have to get your dog (Rexie) ready, including giving him a bath (even if your little brother accidentally squirts Rexie with blue paint instead of shampoo). You have to dress like a proper handler and then, if Rexie gets into a scrap with a skunk, you’ll have to bathe him again with some tomato juice and then, when your brother adds grape juice and lemonade, figure out how to explain to the judges why your dog is purple. Groom your dog well at the show and be authoritative with your commands. Make sure your dog doesn’t steal the judge’s shoes or knock over the prize table. And if your dog is disqualified, keep your chin up and remember, you can always host your own dog show, where you can give prizes for fetching sticks and chewing shoes and let Rexie get a good night’s sleep after such a busy day.
Author Madelyn Rosenberg first introduced us to narrator Julia and her little brother, Charles, in How to Behave at a Tea Party. Their very funny dog show adventure here is sure to be a hit with dog lovers, since the love and pride Julia has in her dog is evident from page one. As you may have guessed from the summary above, nothing really goes right in this dog show and Rexie causes lots of problems, but Julia never gets disappointed in him, which is a nice little message to put in here. The illustrations are done in Photoshop and artist Heather Ross packs a lot of funny reactions and imagery into them. At times, it all seems really chaotic, but I think that’s kind of the point. If I had read this book as a kid, I would absolutely respond by hosting my own neighborhood dog show. What a cool idea. (And spoiler – my childhood dog, Tippy, would have done very well.)
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that your dog doesn’t have to be a show dog to be a champion to you.