Friday, October 3, 2014

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 3rd October 2014 - "Plumdog" by Emma Chichester-Clark (Jonathan Cape)


Written and Illustrated by
Emma Chichester-Clark

Published by Jonathan Cape

Time for a truly gorgeous book, and one that's once again meant we've needed to double up on our awesome "Book of the Week" nominees. We've been following the awesome adventures of Plum for ages, via Twitter and directly on the awesome Plumdog Blog. Emma Chichester-Clark, aided and abetted by Plum, writes and paints a fantastic visual blog from a doggy perspective following the adventures of her intrepid Whoosel (That's part whippet, part poodle, part Jack Russell, whew!)

Now, we'll readily admit we're predominantly cat-people here at ReadItDaddy but Plum is truly irresistible, and for a long time we wondered how Emma managed to see things from Plum's point of view so perfectly.

Well the answer is obvious, Emma and Plum share a doggy-human psychic link the like of which we haven't seen for a very long time. In fact here's the thing, Plum's musings and Emma's expert storytelling and illustrative eye reminded me of a book I was given as a child - a book that has sadly disappeared in umpteen house moves and is virtually untraceable aside from this paltry offering via the internet...

Cold Noses by C.B Poultney.

C.B Poultney and Emma Chichester-Clark both have the enviable knack of being able to convey their dog's thoughts in a way that makes them completely irresistible to us mere mortals. C.B wrote about a brilliant Scottie called Sir Roderick Dhu (and Patrick, his rather aloof and sneering moggy friend). Both Roderick and Plum became narrator, storyteller and star of their own wonderfully crafted fables (in fact it's quite eerie comparing the two at times, I'd love to imagine that Rod and Plum would be firm friends).

But Plum is the star of this particular show. Plum delights us by engaging in all manner of dog behaviour (including a lot of rather unsavoury 'rolling in things that pong') but talks to us - through Emma's exquisite gift of expression and scene-setting - in a universal language that young, old and canine will utterly want to devour in one huge sitting.

We've followed Plum through doggy misbehaviour - un-stuffing stuffed toys, or leaping headlong into pongy, smelly or very wet things, through heartache (when Rocket disappears to France - the cheek of it!) and when a nasty dog injured Plum (I distinctly remember almost bursting into tears on Twitter when I heard about this). It's become essential reading and I'm very happy to report that Plum continues to blog almost daily, hooray!

Collecting together the blog posts is an absolute stroke of genius and for ages we'd secretly hoped it was going to happen. Now it has, we're greedily hoping for a volume 2 (and 3 and...oh you get the picture) because it's such a fantastic read (in fact on the day it arrived, I sat down meaning to quickly leaf through before letting Charlotte loose on it (advisable as there's a single tiny sweary s-word moment I recalled from the blog that parents might want to stick a sticky label over in the book before letting their little ones leaf through) and nearly made myself late for work cackling out loud at some of Plum and Emma's antics!)

It's definitely not just for the dog lover in your life, but for anyone who truly loves seeing someone doing what they really enjoy the most - telling stories and painting gorgeous scenes that make us want to leap headfirst into the book and live there alongside Plum, Emma and Daddy. Of course, the real stroke of genius is Emma rather neatly seeing herself (and other humans) through Plum's canine gaze. It's so mesmerisingly well observed.

Take our advice, put it on your 'to-buy' list now. Just do it, you really do not want to miss out on Plum's doggy booky debut.

"Plumdog" by Emma Chichester-Clark, came out yesterday (2nd October) from Jonathan Cape Publishing.

Charlotte's Favourite Plum Adventure: She loves the one where Esther comforts Plum after a nasty incident with a snarly dog threatening to 'bite her stupid face off'. She liked the "crazy native mother nature" snowman (blush!) but most of all she LOVED Plum meeting mouse superstar Maisie and not being fooled for a second :)

Daddy's Favourite Plum Adventure: I am with Plum's daddy on the 'going for long walks' thing. I do that too (gradually slow down until I'm about ten miles behind everyone else!) Also laughed out loud about Plum being told "bad girl, bad dog" but hearing "la la la la" in her head instead (Charlotte does this too!)

(Kindly sent to us for review by Jonathan Cape Publishing)

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