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Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School (LaRue Books) Hardcover – September 1, 2003


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Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School (LaRue Books) + I Wanna Iguana + Earrings! (Aladdin Picture Books)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 500L (What's this?)
  • Series: LaRue Books
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; 1st edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439206634
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439206631
  • Product Dimensions: 12.2 x 9.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A clever book for a clever dog, Dear Mrs. LaRue collects a series of guilt-inducing letters sent home by the cat-chasing, chicken-pie-eating Ike to his "cruel" owner Mrs. LaRue, whom he hopes will come to her senses and spring him from obedience school.

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

A dog's life is hardly to be envied if one believes the words of Ike, a rambunctious pooch sentenced to obedience school by his exasperated owner, Mrs. LaRue. Having repeatedly terrorized the neighbors' cats and snatched one snack too many from the kitchen counter, Ike finds himself enrolled at Igor Brotweiler Canine Academy. The hero begins a clever letter-writing campaign to Mrs. LaRue that paints a grim (and hopefully guilt-inducing) picture of his Brotweiler experience. But readers are privy to the hilarious truth. Teague (How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?) depicts the pampered pup at the spa-like academy in brightly colored vignettes, juxtaposed with black-and-white prison-like scenes that illustrate Ike's imagined hardship. He composes his correspondence with dramatic flair, whether describing his "inmate" experience ("The guards here are all caught up in this `good dog, bad dog' thing") or reflecting on his misdeeds back at home ("Were the neighbors really complaining about my howling?... Let's recall that these are the same neighbors who are constantly waking me up in the middle of the afternoon with their loud vacuuming").Throughout, the devilish laughs are in the details (waiters in white coats serving academy dogs gourmet meals and frozen drinks; Ike's images of a hard life in striped prison garb plus ball-and-chain). Even the duo's reunion (to much fanfare) plays off of an earlier joke. All in all, a tail-wagger of a book that will have readers howling with amusement. Ages 5-8.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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This book is one of my 2.5-year old's favorites.
KC
A very funny story, which is only enhanced by the splendid illustrations provided by Teague, make this book a storytime winner!
"atargatisdelamare"
It was a really fun book to read and I did title predictions with the kids.
Christy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 31, 2003
Format: Hardcover
When I came across this book, I knew I had to read it. A dog writing letters home from dog obedience school? How can this not be an enjoyable book? Poor, misunderstood Ike has been sent off to the Igor Brotweiler Canine Academy by his harried owner Mrs. Gertrude R. LaRue. Ike does what any dog would do in such a situation; he tries to make his owner feel so guilty about putting him there that she will come and get him. He does have a point of sorts, as the straw that broke the camel's (or, in this case, Mrs. LaRue's) back has two very different sides to it. As the days pass, Ike becomes defensive, then he changes tactics in an effort to show his owner how much she needs him back. Will poor Ike ever see his home again? Will he never again be able to munch on another one of Mrs. LaRue's apple pies? Perish the thought.
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.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My husband and I LOVED this book... it's a treat for readers of all ages! Anyone who has ever owned a pet... had a child... or BEEN a child... can relate all too well to Ike's melodramatic reimaginings of reality. No detail in this book has been overlooked... Ike's tone in every letter is perfect and true. The illustrations are packed with funny details. This is the perfect book for the child or dog-lover in anyone's life -- I've found the perfect Christmas stocking stuffer for about 8 people on my list!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Daniel L Edelen TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Ike LaRue is a dog wronged. Accused of eating a chicken pie without permission, scaring the neighbor's cats, and tearing his owner's camel hair coat, he finds himself shipped off to a posh obedience school. But Ike, being quite the ham, exaggerates his "imprisonment" in a series of letters to his accusing owner, Mrs. LaRue. Despite his protestations concerning the food, the "guards", and the lousy medical care he receives (being unfairly labeled a "hypochondriac") while in the clutches of the Igor Brotweiler school, his judgmental owner never springs the poor pooch.
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.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Not since Snoopy himself penned those famous words, "It was a dark and stormy night", has a canine been so eloquent on paper. Having been sent to obedience school for what he deems minor infractions, Ike LaRue finds himself writing pitiful letters to his owner afar. Kids reading this book will have to distinguish between the overdramatic things Ike says and the colorful pictures that display how life really is. As they read the book, children will see that while Ike may state some over-exaggerations, he truly does feel affection for his owner, Mrs. LaRue.
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.
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