Preschool to Grade 2 (Tundra Books, 2011)
Red-headed Daphne is a real wild child, while poor Mr. Dash is a proper posh pup. He lives with Madame Croissant, assists in her Gift Shop and tactfully finds ways to avoid Daphne’s weekly visits. Alas, however, the day arrives that he does not gather his newspaper and retreat to the park on time. He is left to suffer the indignities of being bathed in the back yard, dressed as a baby and paraded around the neighbourhood. But when Daphne is in trouble, Mr. Dash shows that he can “[leave] his manners at the top of the hill” and rush to the rescue. Even a proper posh pup can be a girl’s best friend!
Kulling and Melo complement each other beautifully in this picture book. Melo’s bright and funny illustrations are perfect reflections of the colour and humour in Kulling’s language. Mr. Dash wears “doggles” on sunny days and he always “puts his best paw forward.” He looks haughtily down his nose when Daphne displays her atrocious table manners, all the while unaware that a kernel of caramel corn is perched quite perfectly on the top of his head.
There is an additional level of humour to give grown-ups that extra chuckle – particularly appreciated given that my daughters, aged 3 and 6, insist we read this book over and over again! At the end of the day, Mr. Dash and I share a quiet smile: although he has shown what a perfect gentleman he will always be, for one night he is simply glad that tomorrow “there would be no Daphne!”