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Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School (LaRue Books) Hardcover – September 1, 2003
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Desperate to come home, Ike shows great enthusiasm for stretching the truth about his treatment at Brotweiler Canine Academy. Illustrator and author Mark Teague has developed a hilariously disdainful and dignified voice for the not-very-put-upon Ike, but Teague's most cunning innovation is the book's format: He splits each spread between what's really happening, done in color, and what Ike's imagining and exaggerating to Mrs. LaRue, in big thought bubbles using dramatic black and white. As Ike delivers his first letter, in his thought bubble we see Ike carted away in the Brotweiler Canine Academy paddy wagon ("We Aim to Tame"!), up a windy road to a scary-looking quasi-Transylvanian compound, complete with lightning and bats; in full-color reality, Brotweiler looks much more like the UCLA campus in spring bloom, with a sign pointing to the sauna (on the right) and the pool (on the left).
Ike's first carefully typed letter pleads, "How could you do this to me? This is a PRISON, not a school! You should see the other dogs. They are BAD DOGS, Mrs. LaRue! I do not fit in." Subsequent letters describe the staff ("The GUARDS here are all caught up in this 'good dog, bad dog' thing"), the "crimes" that landed him there ("I'd like to clear up some misconceptions about the Hibbins' cats. First, they are hardly the little angels Mrs. Hibbins makes them out to be. Second, how should I know what they were doing out on the fire escape in the middle of January? They were being a bit melodramatic, don't you think?"), and his eventual plans for escape ("I'm sorry it has come to this, since I am really a very good dog, but frankly you left me no choice"). Teague drew inspiration from a couple of sneaky dogs in his own life; kids and grownups reading Ike's tall tales might be reminded of loyal and misunderstood pooches of their own. (Ages 4 to 8) --Paul Hughes
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is aimed at children four to eight years old, although parents and weird adults like me should also get a kick out of it. The letters are funny, and one could - if one were so inclined - make an object lesson out of comparing Ike's situation with that of a misbehaving child, but the big sell here is really the pictures. Each page is graced with vivid illustrations contrasting the reality of Ike's life at the Academy with the melodramatic visions of oppression and misery he tries to convey in his letters to Mrs. LaRue. If you are looking for that special book to convince your young child that reading is fun, Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School may well be that book.
Author Mark Teague is hardly unknown to the world of children's illustrations. The ever-popular "How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?" featured his own unique illustrating methods. But he is just as able an author. "Dear Mrs. LaRue", is an adept melding of text and artistry. In each scene the viewer sees the truth in color, and Ike's fabulous imaginations in bleak black and white. Interestingly enough, it is difficult to say exactly how much Ike says is fanciful. For example, Ike's insistence that he has saved his owner numerable times from speeding vehicles turns out to be more than true at the end of the story. Also, a final shot of the cats Ike has hounded suggests that they may not be the angelic creatures so believed of their owners.
The book is an excellent one for children, containing more than a few visual jokes for adults. Parents can choose whether or not to explain what Ike's diagnosis of "hypochondria" really means or why they laughed when one of the final pictures displayed a jubilant display of people carrying "I like Ike" signs.Read more ›
Mark Teague brings his pretentious pup to glowing life in a series of truth vs. fiction illustrations that show Ike's reality in contrast with the imagined conditions he portrays in his notes home. It's difficult not to smile at the lengths Ike goes to in order to prove himself innocent, while pleading for his owner to rescue him from a fate worse than death.
Is Ike justified in the end? Let's just say that all dogs have their day and Ike's is better than most.
This is one of those exceedingly rare books that will appeal to children AND parents. The large, lively graphics, wit, and overall cleverness in concept make this an endearing classic already. Even my three year old son, who can in no way understand many of the sly jokes, repeatedly wished to have us read this one - always a great endorsement. On first reading I thought the book was a little much, but it grows on you, getting funnier with each reading. I've never really seen a children's book like this one before and for sheer flair "Dear Mrs. LaRue" gets a big thumbs up.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Perhaps it's an unfair judgement, but after seeing this was released with a tie-in to Khol's, the department store, I assumed this was going to be a kind of bad book. A money grab. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Dione Basseri
The Ike Larue books are awesome! I'm a fourth grade writing teacher, and I use several, including this one, to teach persuasive writing. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mark Taylor
Love this story. Great way of demonstrating perspective and bias...and it is hilarious!!!Published 4 months ago by Kara Bonikowsky
I became familiar with this book not long after it first came out. I know it's supposed to be a children's book but this copy is mine to tickle my funny bone again and to share... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Carmina
My six year old grandchild loves this book! Ike the dog is a "drama queen" and is hilarious as he writes letters home from obedience school. Read morePublished 10 months ago by J. Smith