Today, I’m introducing a new feature here on Albert’s New York: book reviews. Books are objects that distract humans from playing with, giving treats to, or rubbing the bellies of their dogs. So, generally speaking, I’m against them. However, some books are useful: Those that help humans understand dogs, those that train humans to live with their dogs, and those that contain pictures of dogs. These are the kinds of books that I will occasionally consider here.
Disclosure: I know some humans at HarperCollins, and they sent me a book, Shake Puppies, in the hopes that I would review it.* The fact that they gave me a copy did not influence my opinion of this book.
Herewith, my appraisal:
The first important thing I have to tell you about Shake Puppies is that the title is NOT a command. Humans, please do not shake any puppies. Like human babies, puppies are fragile and must be handled gently.
The good thing about this book is that it does not have too many words. This means it will not take humans too long to look at it, so they can quickly return to playing with their dogs, which is what they should be doing with their free time. Shake Puppies is made up almost entirely of close-up photographs of dogs caught in the midst of shaking themselves off, as we do when we get wet, or sometimes when we wake up or after an intense play session.
At first, I was disconcerted to realize that I was not included in this collection. After all, I often shake myself off, and I am a dog. Then I learned that only puppies were selected for this book. Despite the fact that this is blatant age discrimination, at least it explained the omission. But then I learned that the author, one Ms. Carli Davidson, a human female, has an earlier book called Shake, which featured photos of adult dogs and from which I was also excluded. I can only conclude that either I unwittingly offended Ms. Carli at some point (I’m sure we’ve never met) or that she didn’t want to make the other dogs feel inferior by comparison with such a handsome specimen.
Once I got over my dismay and began to peruse the book, I saw that the puppies included are very charming and some of them are even adorable (I especially liked little Chance). The photos capture them mid-action, ears flapping, faces frozen in funny expressions. Some, like young, unsuspecting Hans, appear almost startled. Well, why wouldn’t he? How would you humans feel if some photographer caught you coming out of the shower and started snapping pictures of you toweling off your pear-shaped bodies in that grotesquely inefficient way you do?
(Ms. Carli, I’ve just given you your next book idea. You’re welcome.)
In addition to the entertainment value of the photos, Ms. Carli offers a strong plea for adopting a shelter dog in her introduction and conclusion of this book. As a former shelter dog myself, I admit that I am partial to this message.
All in all, despite my reservations, I think this book is a good choice for anyone who loves dogs and doesn’t want to strain their eyes by having to look at too many words. I think it could be especially beneficial for humans in stressful situations where they are not allowed to have an actual dog present. Looking at these pictures wouldn’t be the same as actually having a dog with you, but it might at least cheer you up a bit. Also, because it is mostly pictures, even human children who do not yet know how to use all their words yet will be able to enjoy this book. Very small children (and puppies) may also enjoy chewing on its covers.
Ways in which this book is good: Not too many words, nice pictures, support for shelter dogs, cover good to chew on if you get bored
Ways in which this book could have been better: Pictures of me as a puppy, paper that smells like liver
Shake Puppies ($17.99 hardcover, Harper Design) is by Carli Davidson.
*I would rather they had sent me some free lamb lung, but I suppose we have to start somewhere. You can find my complete disclaimer information here.