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The Dog Who Wasn't What He Thought He Was by Walter Emanuel illustrated by Cecil Aldin


I chose this book because, to my mind, it is a typical Cecil Aldin publication - I am a dog lover and love Aldin's drawings. This book is written by Walter Emanuel and I think the style of writing is very similar to Cecil Aldin's. However, the speech is slightly more forthright and tickles my sense of humour - for example:


"Then my master has given me the absurd name of Gibus, because, he says, my face reminds him of his opera hat when it is shut up. I only know one name more absurd, and that is Chicky [the baby in the story]. Which reminds me that it is pretty evident that I am intended to play second fiddle to that brat, and I don't intend to do it."


"… he would have to glue each of my paws on to a wooden stand with wheels, and I should be dragged through the streets like a toy. Silly ass!"


The intriguing title leads me to wonder - what did Gibus think he was and why wasn't he what he thought he was?...


The book is written from the point of view of Gibus the dog as a diary from Monday to Friday, from the time he leaves his mother to stay with his new master who is an ugly little fellow named Pretyman. His master and his wife also have a baby – a "hideous lump of lard named Chicky aged about three years and a bachelor". Gibus is to be a companion to Chicky and is not amused at this idea at all - they have a nice little dog in Gibus, why do they need a baby?

The Pretymans don't even know what sort of dog Gibus is (much to his disgust) but he shamefully admits he doesn't know either as his mother never told him!.


His mistress takes him to the Park which is a bit of alright having been evidently constructed especially for dogs – it is just like the country. His mistress has trouble keeping up with Gibus as he scampers and runs... clearly she has not had much training in learning to follow!


One of the big dogs about town asks Gibus if he is a thoroughbred and determines that he isn't as he doesn't have a black roof to his mouth - after all, every thoroughbred has a black roof to their mouth. Gibus can only get one from his mother but he decides he would rather die than go begging to her for a black roof to his mouth. However, he sees the coalbox in the library and that puts the idea into his head - and thence into his mouth...! Mr. Pretyman comes into the room and threatens to beat him within an inch of his life if he finds him doing it again. Ah well, Gibus determines to eat no more of this coal - if his master likes to have a dog who is not a thoroughbred, that's his affair...


That night sees Gibus howling and the master cannot stop him. The mistress suggests a lump of sugar. Gibus loves sugar! He wolfs the sugar lump down and master then tells him to be quiet or the neighbours would be complaining. Gibus loves sugar so he howls for more... master gives him another lump which he eats with relish - and continues to howl! What a jolly good way to get master to give him sugar. It's only after the third lump that Gibus decides to be a good boy and stop howling.


The next day Gibus is in a bad temper. He has arranged to meet some of his big dog friends in the Park but it is raining and Gibus is not allowed out. He vents his frustration on his mistress's boudoir, destroying two handsome cushions stuffed with feathers. He then visits his master's library where he cripples his master's favourite pipe and tears up a number of letters into a thousand pieces. Naughty Gibus!


Next he pays a visit to 'Master' Chicky who is crawling on the floor, rattle in hand. Gibus wrenches '"his beastly rattle" from him and bites it through and through! At this, Master Chicky yells so much that his nurse and mother rush in and order Gibus to be beaten. Poor Gibus. But - it is after this beating that Gibus declares he has found out what he is: A Bloodhound!


How does he come to that conclusion and is he right? I'm going to leave you in suspense in the hope you will read the book for yourself! The story and the drawings are delightful so I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did.

(Published 4th Sep 2019)

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