'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 17 October 2009

Review: Who Wants to be a Poodle? I Don't

Title: Who Wants to be a Poodle? I don’t.

Author: Lauren Child

Illustrator: Lauren Child

Publisher: Puffin

Format: Hardcover

Language: English

ISBN: 978 0 141 38490 0

For ages: 2+

Type: Picture Book

About: Oh – scrumptiousness. Utter deliciousness. Who Wants to be a Poodle? I Don’t, Lauren Child’s latest page-bound brilliance, combines everything I love in one tidy tome.

Pink. Posh poodles. Paris. Curly writing (this means descriptive to the point of curling your toes). Retro leanings, colours, style and tone. Stunning patterns. A multimedia blend. It has it all.

Being a children’s author myself, there’s plenty of work in the world to admire and drool over but I must admit, it takes a lot to make me decidedly green. Lauren Child has consistently done this to me and continues to do it with greater depth – after reading her very latest work, I am now a nice deep shade of jade green. I wanna be Lauren Child.

It’s also wonderful to see Child put out something new. We’re big fans of Charlie and Lola in our house but I must admit I’ve become a teensy tired of the C&L juggernaut that’s taken over the author’s books. Absolutely loving the TV series but this has spurned a spate of churn-em-out spin off books penned by scriptwriters, based on the TV series. Don’t know about you – but the lack of authenticity of these books has made me reluctant to buy them (and indeed, I’ve passed many a C&L book over for this reason).

Lovely, then, to see Child’s own, original and fabulous work in this latest offering.

Trixie Twinkle Toes Trot-a-lot Delight is a posh little poodle of privilege. She has her own maid, chef and butler to carry her over puddles. She has a doorman, a luxe apartment and an owner – Madame Brulée – who fawns over and adores her.

Madame Brulée loves nothing more than preening and perfuming her darling little dog, but Trixie Twinkle Toes wants nothing of it. She’s bored of chewing her pink velvet ribbon in her luxury apartment. She doesn’t like pink ponchos and pompoms. She doesn’t want posing and powdering.

So what does this little dog want to do? She wants to run! She wants to play! She wants to jump in puddles and get muddy. She wants the great outdoors – to play with other dogs in the park, to skip merrily through the grass. She wants to be named Growler, Gripper or Squasher, not Trixie Twinkle Dink.

One night, sick of the poodle-to-do life she’s living, Trixie howls in despair. She howls in such an un-poodle-like fashion, Madame Brulée rushes to her aid. Unable to imagine why her darling Trixie is despairing, she sends for her maid, for a vet, even a pet psychic and psychiatrist – “I want to catch sticks, roll in the mud, be dangerous and daring,” says Trixie – but, of course, the psychiatrist can’t understand a word she’s saying.

Poor Trixie. With her cosseted life, how can she ever be dangerous and daring?

This gorgeous book takes the desires and dreams of a little dog to garner the courage to be true to herself – to step outside the mould and the expectations of everyone else, to do what she loves and be who she really is.

Coupled with stunning, retro, timeless multimedia illustrations the author does so very well, this storyline is classically Child – lilting, flowery, deliciously verbose – with a rhythm that is easy to read both out loud and in-mind. The characters are heartfelt, the moral outcome is subtle and unpatronising.

Add Who Wants to be a Poodle? I Don't to your children’s collection if you love work that is clever, empowering, addictive and wraps its loving paws around you. This one’s a keeper.

Author website

This book is available online:

Booktopia AU$21.95
The Nile AU$24.49
QBD AU$24.95