For the Dog Days of Summer

Dozens of Dachshunds: A Counting, Woofing, Waggling Book – written by Stephanie Calmenson, illustrated by Zoe Persico
Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2021

Within the category of children’s books about dogs there is a much smaller, more select, group of dachshund books. It’s no wonder, because the comical nature of these pets, including the fact that illustrators can transform them into virtually any object, makes them a tempting subject.  Now, along with Margret and H.A. Rey’s Pretzel, Munro Leaf’s Noodle, by Munro Leaf and Ludwig Bemelmans, and Paolo, Emperor of Rome, by Mac Barnett and Claire Keane, there is a new addition, more geared to younger readers.  Dozens of Dachshunds is focused less on narrative and more on a rhyming text and colorful pictures, although it does chronicle a parade on Dachshund Day.

Before the story begins, a dog with a word bubble pronounces the name of his breed correctly: it is “Dox-hund.” If you haven’t been saying it that way, it’s a tough habit to break.  The point of the information is to frame the book about dogs dressed in flamboyant outfits as a factual introduction to the breed.  While the expressions on the dogs’ faces makes them almost human, the humans in the book are quite real.  There is a multicultural cast and a girl using a wheelchair. She enjoys an ice cream cone while happily observing some dachshunds dressed as the same treat.  A notable quality of the book is the connection between dogs dressed in fantastic costumes and humans having a good time just as themselves, sometimes with one accessory the matches the dog’s. Children will have fun identifying the crown, jaunty hat, or food item shared by canine participants and human observers.

Ice cream is only one choice for the dog parade.  The costumes are a bit of personality test for the reader.  No doubt, ice cream is popular. Dogs dressed as superheroes, athletes, or mythological creatures with wings, supply plenty of opportunities for conversation. My personal favorite are the dachshunds wearing reading matter, “perfectly dressed/for sharing the books they each like the best.”

Humans are involved in the festivities. They encourage the dogs, film them, sing to them, and eventually return them to their homes, because this exciting event has to end.  I like the little girl with the hippie-style headband and sandals, who, while others are standing, sits at the dogs’ level.  There’s a lot of variety, enthusiasm, and humor. Just when you were about to head home, the book concludes with two pages of dachshund definitions, based on coats, sizes, colors, and patterns.  I had no idea that there were longhaired dachshunds, let alone sable, blue and cream, or chocolate and cream. Stephanie Calmenson and Zoe Persico’s dogs maybe more down-to-earth than Noodle and less prone to adventure than Paolo, but they are highly entertaining, just the same.

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