In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Dear Annie,

It's February and gray and dreary so I'm going to turn to the allure of travel.  Specifically, with the delightlfully wacky Tim Egan's  Dodsworth.  So far he's been to three cities :

As you can see from the covers, the titles should be Dodsworth and Duck.  In the first book,
Dodsworth wanted adventure.
He wanted to fly in a plane.
He wanted to sail on a ship.
He wanted to see the world.
But first, he wanted breakfast.

Breakfast at Hodges' cafe (pancakes) leads to Hodges' misbehaving duck (many pancakes end up in air and on ground) stowing away in Dodsworth's luggage.  This is discovered on the train to New York, where Dodsworth has booked ship passage to Paris.  He buys the duck a train ticket back home, but the duck takes off, and Dodsworth spends a day looking for him in some of the major sights of New York, a la Madeline's wanderings through Paris.  Finally, he finds a woman feeding bread to some ducks, but "Only one duck was throwing bread back at the lady." The duck once again outruns Dodsworth and jumps on the Paris-bound ship.  As the curtain comes down on book one, they're on their way to France.

I'm not quite sure what kind of animal Dodsworth is.  A fox?  A weasel?  Muskrat? The predominant other species appear to be pigs, cows and hippos.  In Paris, the duck acquires an acorn-shell beret and tries unsuccessfully to become a street performer (while dancing unintentionally on a painting by Dodsworth).  There's much exasperation, and a hasty exit from Paris in a hot air balloon.

While floating in to London, the duck sees Buckingham Palace and declares his intention to stay there. "It's not a motel," cautions Dodsworth.  They go into a pub near Picadilly Circus, where there are darts:
The duck looked at a dart.
Dodsworth looked at the duck.
"Don't even think about it," he said.
The duck smiled.
The duck grabbed the dart.  
Dodsworth jumped at the duck.
He wasn't fast enough.
The duck threw the dart.
Once again, chaos ensues and they leave.  They eventually get separated (two different double-decker buses) and Dodsworth is confused by a very similar-looking duck with a British accent ("I am the Royal Duck.  Her Majesty's Duck.") and is then distraught because he's lost his friend.  There's a day-long search  through the sights of London, and of course the duck is found entertaining the queen in Buckingham Palace.  They end up staying there for a week.

One could call these books picture books, or early readers, in the short-chapter tradition of the Frog and Toad books.  They make entertaining read-alouds and can come in handy for the family who travels.  The next stop is Dodsworth in Rome, which will be out in April.




  1. Just read a review of this on Storied Cities, where today she reviews Tell Me a Mitzi. So I'm putting you in touch with each other!

  2. Thanks, Rachel! I like Storied Cities already -- another really good find.

  3. I love being part of a blogger "set-up"! :) We love the Dodsworth books, too. Your review does a better job than mine of capturing the quirkiness of the the books. And to answer the question that you asked in your comment, sadly I haven't read Tell me a Trudy. I tried to find it at the library, but to no avail.