When I was young, my mother and I lived in a succession of apartments, none of which allowed pets. I had a fervent hope for a dog or a cat, an animal friend to love. Every year for Christmas, I received a new stuffed animal, usually a dog because my mother didn’t care for cats. I still have those stuffed animals, but I’ve never had a pet. Even when we finally moved into a house 20 years ago, we were traveling so much that we wouldn’t have made a good home for an animal. But I have always loved stories about dogs and cats. That’s why I’m so touched to read McDuff Moves In, lovingly brought back in print by The Gryphon Press.
Rosemary Wells wrote this story. Susan Jeffers illustrated it. It was originally published in 1997 but it hasn’t been available for a number of years. It’s a timeless story, set in the 1930s but possible any time and anywhere.
A dog on its way to the pound in the back of a pickup truck jumps out and wanders through a scary night until it is attracted to a small house by the smell of vanilla rice pudding and sausages. When Lucy and Fred are curious about the “woofs” outside their door, they open their home to a West Highland White terrier, a Westie. Believing they are too busy to adopt a dog into their family, they set out for the city pound, a place that, in the 1930s, rounded up stray animals and, most often, euthanized them. Very few dogs were adopted out of pounds in those days.
This is an empathetic and heartwarming story, so you might guess what happens on Lucy and Fred’s drive to the pound. Children listening to this story and viewing Susan Jeffers’ illustrations will fall in love with this dog, who gets his name from a cookie! The text is the perfect length, with a turn-the-page pacing. The colors are sumptuous, rich, and warm. And an author’s note tells us that both Rosemary Wells and Susan Jeffers have had Westies as companions for many years … they know these dogs!
The author’s note and the back matter are encouraging about adopting a dog from an animal shelter or a rescue group. Advice on how to do that is a welcome follow-up to this lovable book. And the recipe for Lucy’s Easy Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding is included with a note that vanilla extract is poisonous to dogs so you must use vanilla beans. We’re delighted to include this recipe in Cookology, courtesy of The Gryphon Press.
This is a wonderful book for your home collection or your stash of classroom books about caring for animals. Highly recommended.
McDuff Moves In
written by Rosemary Wells
illustrated by Susan Jeffers
The Gryphon Press, 2019