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Uncle Boris in the Yukon and Other Shaggy Dog Stories Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 6, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
inkwater, author of children's books (The Hoboken Chicken Emergency; Lizard Music) and a commentator on NPR's All Things Considered, delivers a witty rumination on his experiences with dogs. Uncle Boris, one of the many colorful and dysfunctional adults of Pinkwater's childhood, gave his parents a Pekingese named Bobby shortly before the author's birth. Uncle Boris made a living selling fake purebreds and assured Pinkwater's father that "a dog lik dis is all deh rage in deh best parts of Brooklyn." Bobby's sole redeeming feature was that he appointed himself the new baby's guardian, thus protecting Pinkwater from his "precivilized" parents. Also featured here are other family pets, such as the asthmatic terrier Bootsie and Pedro the psychotic parrot. After Pinkwater married, he and his wife Jill (who has illustrated a number of Pinkwater's books) began acquiring malamutes; as a result of the training challenges that ensued, they established themselves as experts who taught people "how to better enjoy dogs." They published what they learned in the 1977 book, Superpuppy, but even this latest volume contains a few tricks of the trade. From anecdotes about an aging wolf named Matilda to reflections on how dogs have shown him "a lot about how it's possible to live this life," Pinkwater's light and extremely entertaining read will please animal lovers of all stripes. Drawings by the author.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Is it any wonder that an author known for his comic and outrageously imaginative children's books would write about his experiences with man's best friend in an unconventional, albeit engaging, way? Pinkwater here remembers all the dogs that have passed through his life, from the shaggy Pekinese given to his family by Uncle Boris (who supposedly encountered Jack London in the tailor shop that Pinkwater's father once owned in Warsaw) and Stan the Irish setter, acquired without his father's knowledge, to Juno, the Alaskan malamute that Pinkwater bought after he was smitten by the sight of two large sled dogs in Manhattan, and Arnold, the puppy. Pinkwater does not intend this as a how-to-train book; he covered that base in Superpuppy, aimed at children, after reading hundreds of training manuals and deciding that much of what had been written about canines had no foundation in reality. The reader must decide how much of this humorous and creative reminiscence is fact and how much is fiction. Sure to be popular where dog books and the author's other works are enjoyed, this is recommended for larger public libraries and young adult collections. Edell M. Schaefer, Brookfield P.L., WI
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Daniel Pinkwater is the author of many children’s and young adult books. He was a failed sculptor and painter who fell into writing. He is also a man with a gentle self-effacing sense of humor that carries into the books and essays he has written targeted for adults. For many years he presented his material on National Public Radio. I suspect that much of the material in Uncle Boris in the Yukon: and Other Shaggy Dog Stories had been presented, if not in this form as part of his radio broadcasts.
The term Shaggy Dog Story was coined to descried very long jokes wherein the punch line was incidental. The joke was that the teller had taken you in with an overly long set up and almost no payoff. The listener had let themselves be had. Pinkwater is capable of such stem winders, but that is not how he means the term. This book is dedicated to many of the dogs ,with some mention of a few other pets that Daniel and his wife had the honor to share their lives. Between them they had lived with some unlikely animals, they are somewhat unlikely people- but between them, human and animal were bonds of respect and admiration, all remembered here with charm and wit.
The opening tells of how Pinkwater’s father and uncles came to America. They came as continental gangsters only to be out classed by American gangsters. They each built new lives. Daniel’s father would make it somewhat big in the scrap clothing business and this preoccupation made for a lonely life for the son. As a child he would wish for a dog that would be his dog and the closest he would come was from the stories of his uncle, Boris, who claimed that his Alaskan sled dog spoke to him in Yiddish.
From this slow beginning we eventually get to Pinkwater the pet owner, husband and even dog trainer. He and his wife Jill published Superpuppy: How to Choose, Raise, and Train the Best Possible Dog for You still in print; an award winning book for the new pet owner.
Uncle Boris in the Yukon and Other Shaggy Dog Stories is devoted to the accounts, both hilarious and poignant, of Pinkwater's journey to and through adulthood, and the critters that have shared and shaped his life and outlook: the dogs he and wife Jill have owned, among them three Alaskan malamutes and an Akita cross, as well as the hundreds they encountered as professional obedience instructors; also Matilda the Wolf and an Inuit Sled Dog named Puggiq, described as the happiest being ever encountered. Currently the Pinkwaters share their home with Maxine, an aging Labrador retriever and Lulu, a five year old Inuit Sled Dog.
Delightfully illustrated by Jill Pinkwater, Uncle Boris in the Yukon and Other Shaggy Dog Stories is more than just pleasurable reading. Those of us who are "doggie" in general and have northern breeds in particular will appreciate Pinkwater's keen, if slightly embellished, perception and understanding about dogs, and will surely recognize similarities with some of our own four-legged companions.
My dog, Gracie, also recommends this one as a "dog & person" snuggle read.