Saturday, December 31, 2016

Book Review: Let Me Tell You About Jasper (dog, easy reader, Photoshop photos)

Let Me Tell You About Jasper. . .: How My Best Friend Became America’s Dog , by Dana Perino (Hachette, 259 pages, 2016, $27)

Couldn’t Wait for Jasper!

I am so glad my public library has this book and I didn’t have to either purchase it or request the publisher to send me a review copy – I simply couldn’t wait. But I should have. . . .

For Family, Friends and Fans

Let Me Tell You About Jasper. . . is a book with a special audience, an exclusive limited readership – an audience of family members, friends, and fans of Dana Perino and of others like her who call themselves Dog Moms and those just on the other side of the fine line of dog owners. Jasper’s audience is similar to that of Diane Rehm’s book Life with Maxie and Richard Cohen’s I Want to Kill the Dog, books by famous people*, written for and read mostly by their families.

What DogEvals did like was the size of the dog, a Vizsla! And we got a kick out of some of the Photoshop photos.

Who is Dana Perino? Who is Jasper?

America has certainly heard of Dana Perino, the former press secretary – now with a show or two of her own on Fox TV. And many more people seem to be fans of Jasper, her Vizsla. Jasper follows on the heels of Henry, another Vizsla of Perino’s.

From Colorado and Wyoming where dogs are dogs, to England and California and Washington, D.C., and New York City where dogs have to adjust and adapt to weather and noise and lack of greenery but, if you are a dog with a wealthy family, you have a dog walker and spend weekends at the beach or in the country. Ah! And you get to shine on TV just by being a dog!

She has Style

Perino has a conversational writing style that is lovely at first but is probably better in short stories than repeated too often in a book. She probably writes like she talks, as most people talk – in short sentences.

If I closed my eyes, I could imagine Jasper having been written by a high school sophomore. I wonder about Perino’s first book, And The Good News Is . . . .
I do believe I will take a quick look at it and I would probably recommend reading it first or at least becoming way more familiar with Perino than I am.

The reader realizes that Perino is a young privileged wonder woman (partially due to her appearance, an unfortunate fact of life for women on TV) who amazingly snagged a national level job at a very young age (press secretary for nearly eight years).

Photos Galore

The photos, however, in Jasper and of Jasper are creative and unique: literally half the book consists of page-sized photos of Jasper  reminiscent of Wegman’s weimeraners – Jasper on the cover of TIME magazine as Dog of the Year, Jasper playing golf and tennis, Jasper as Indiana Jones on a movie poster, to name just a few photos created by an anonymous (to the reader) Jasper- and Dana-fan.

Tribute to Dogs

Like Diane Rehm’s book, Life with MaxieLet Me Tell You About Jasper. . . is quite the book for family and friends. Both might be better as short children’s books.

Although Perino states she is not a dog trainer, she then proceeds to write about how to train dogs using rather old-fashioned methods of housetraining and terminology: fortunately most dogs are resilient, as were Henry and Jasper.

*the author is the other half of Meredith Vieira

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

EverythingDogBlog: Four Great Reads (in progress)

DogEvals hasn’t posted a review for a couple of weeks because we have been busy adjudicating a literary award and reading the 15 books, BUT we wanted to let you know what we have begun.

Stay tuned in the next few days for our Best Books of 2016 in various categories from  this year’s posted reviews.

And right now the four reviewers at DogEvals are reading four wonderful books so we wanted to whet your appetite for January’s reviews.

The books are (in no specific order) Stepdog: A Memoir,
by Mireya Navarro (Putnam, 248 pages, 2015, $26.95), a wonderfully funny tale about a stepmom who married a man with a dog that is not very lovable (caveat: the author does not use gentle  dog-friendly methods of training),

Sit Stay Heal: How an Underachieving Labrador Won Our Hearts and Brought Us Together,
by Mel Miskimen (Sourcebooks, $15.99, 285 pages, 2016), another remarkably humorous story of recovering from a death in the family via a black lab who is resilient enough for all (caveat: this book also does not use the gentle training methods recommended by DogEvals),

The Midnight Dog Walkers: Positive Training and Practical Advice for Living with a Reactive or Aggressive Dog,
by Annie Phenix (i-5 Publishing, 224 pages, 2016, $19.95), a book that puts you smack-dab in the middle of the non-fiction story and also gives the solution when you have a ‘difficult’ dog, and

The Pit Bull Life: A Dog Lover’s Companion, by Deirdre Franklin and Linda Lombardi (Countryman Press, 232 pages, 2017, $21.95), a delightful combination of photo and fact.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Book Review: E. B. White on Dogs (dogs, 20th century commentaries)

E. B. White on Dogs, ed. Martha White (Tilbury House Publishers, 178 pp, 2013, $22.95)

Right now you are probably asking yourself, “Who is EB White?”

Well, have you read (or watched) the wonderful Charlotte’s Web (1952 and Newbery winner)?

Or Stuart Little (1945)? Or were you required to purchase and perhaps use Strunk and White's little The Elements of Style (1959) in college? 
Have you read the “Talk of the Town” column in The New  Yorker magazine?

Yup, that EB White, Pulitzer Prize Citation and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient.


Yup, dogs. Life with dogs, mainly in Maine, from 1929 through 1984, including photos and a drawing of a Dachshund going down a flight of stairs that appeared on White’s Christmas card in 1950.

E. B. White on Dogs is his granddaughter’s collection of 79 of White’s writings about his dogs – from Collies to Dachshunds to Labs to Westies to Scotties to Terriers to mongrel mixes (his words) and Setters in poems, essays, sketches, and letters.

White’s poems are the exceptionally cute, especially “Fashions in Dogs” and “Card of Thanks” (to cocker spaniels, on the floor-cleaning ability of their long ears).

The New Yorker Magazine and History

If you like The New Yorker writing style, you will love this book. You will chuckle at White’s dog Daisy who is called Whitey by their veterinarian, probably because Whitey is a black Scottish Terrier (or in honor of White’s last name, perhaps?).

“Daisy had been the sole attendant at my grandparents’ wedding in 1929. ‘It was a very nice wedding – nobody threw anything, and there was a dog fight.’” (page XI)

From “Dog Training”: “Some day [sic]. . . I shall write a book. . . on the character and temperament of the Dachshund and why he can’t be trained and shouldn’t be.” (p. 64)

In 1942, White writes about Abercrombie’s Dog Catalogue in which a dog collar costs $1.50 and a dog bed with a flea-proof cushion goes for $6.00.

A graduate of Cornell University, he, his wife and current dog spend the afternoon listening to the Cornell-Yale football game on a portable radio in 1942. White, a colleague of James Thurber, writes often of Thurber but also of Hitler and Khrushchev, so E. B. White on Dogs can serve as a historical commentary on the world in most of the 20th century.

For The New Yorker aficionado as well as the literary and children’s book lover who also loves dogs, this White book of White snippets might be just the perfect holiday gift from those who can’t find anything else to the person who has almost everything!

Monday, December 5, 2016

EverythingDogBlog: Luis Montalvan Dies

Sad News: Luis Montalvan has died. RIP, Soldier.

Today, December 5, 2016, Luis Montalvan, an Iraq War veteran, died. He was well-known thanks to his service dog, a golden retriever named Tuesday. Montalvan was married earlier this year.

I met Luis and Tuesday in the Baltimore area a few years ago. Montalvan was from Maryland.

RIP, Captain.

Read More About It:

Here are the DogEvals reviews of Montalvan’s three books about his life withTuesday (a fourth book is due out in May of 2017: Since Tuesday: One Veteran, One Dog and Their Bold Quest to Change Lives):