Henry the Dog with No Tail (Paula Wiseman Books) Review

Henry the Dog with No Tail (Paula Wiseman Books)
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This is just a tail-riffic book filled with zany puns (much better than my own). Kate Feiffer's TALE of the Australian sheep dog (they typically do not have tails) is not only witty and wise, but her story-telling is superb. The lessons here about finding your identity, your true friends, and self-acceptance are important ones, but they never take precedence over the first requirement of telling a good story.
Feiffer sounds an authentic note in showing that not all of Henry's "friends" are nice, either pre- or post-tail. This is a departure from some books' all-support-all-the-time stance, and the realism makes it a more helpful for any toddler or early grade schooler. However, when Henry ultimately decides he'll just go without a tail, all the dogs agree that's fine: One mildly dissenting spoil-sport might have enhanced book discussion. Still, the young target audience will appreciate the dog's unifrom acceptance.
Kate Feiffer is talented enough to command her pick of illustrators, but she didn't have to look any further than her own backyard,; or rather, her dad's: Award-winning illustrator-author-etc. Jules Feiffer. His pictures have the classic Feiffer style, casual line and color drawings that evoke movement and character, and a mixture of realism and fantasy befitting one of our best humorists and satirists. Feiffer suggests personality in his ore subtle drawings, but also depicts the wild shenanigans caused by Henry's fake tails. One of them, a long ropey tail made by a TAILOR (of course!), enables Henry to do all kinds of fancy tricks, earning the admiration of most of the dogs. Alas, he trips over the buttoned-on tail, can't even wag it, and is found out.
Discouraged and rejected (by some), Henry leaves his home and neighborhood. Eventually he meet a wagon-maker, of whom Henry asked (obviously) if he can make a WAGging tail! He can't, but Henry fins another solution in New York's Battery Park, which, of course, is littered with bartteries! (While not all 3 year-olds will understand what a battery is, let alone the location of Battery Park, or the explicit pun), it's a very funny conceit that many kids--and their adult readers--will enjoy.) Henry ties this onto his tail, and, voila, not only does his tail wag, but it bounces will along the ground, and propels him skyward like a helicopter!
Henry, despite his newfound talents and tricks, also yearns for a normal, non-flying, authentic dog experience, even if his battery-powered special effects hadn't been discovered by wise-dog Larry. He decided that he'll just be himself, and everyone agrees that's the best tail of all. A beautifully told and illustrated book, I'll put this intelligent, well-told story in my list of top 20 books I've read this year.

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Henry wanted one thing in life. He wanted a tail. All the other dogs he knew had tails. Grady, a black Labrador, had a great big black tail. Pip, a pug, could do tricks with her tail. Larry had a big puffy ball tail.... WHAT WAS HENRY TO DO?

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