Friday, September 26, 2014


Dominic should be a most impatient dog, so eager is he to get on with his adventures and to experience everything the great wide world has to offer. But he is a very good listener and will take a pause from his journey for as long as necessary to help a fellow creature in need. One such was Barney Swain, a wild boar who had scrimped and saved for his wedding and honeymoon, only to have it all stolen by the wicked Doomsday Gang...

Dominic is happy to share his own fortune and save the day. And how did Dominic, a dog of modest means, come to acquire his extraordinary riches? By providing care and comfort to a lonely bedridden stranger, Mr. Bartholomew Badger (a pig), during his final days. In gratitude Mr. Badger has left Dominic directions to his buried treasure, before departing this mortal coil. Dominic weeps for his friend, but he is irrepressible:
Dominic couldn't abide being in the doldrums for long. The doldrums were dreary, and Dominic's spirit was sprightly, it liked to rollick. So he had to get moving. He shook off the dumps, and since he was still holding the shovel with which he had buried Mr. Badger, he went to dig up the treasure.
William Steig's Dominic is a masterpiece... how did I miss it when my kids were the right age? But what is the right age? Here is a novella of 146 pages, including Steig's humble but evocative ink drawings. There are big words and subtle ideas, and a touch of the sadness that permeates his picture book, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. But overall this is a joyful book, perhaps even ecstatic, with a delightful fairytale ending. It is also alive with poetic, richly descriptive language, appealing to all five senses–especially Dominic's most powerful: smell.

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