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Sue Ann Alderson. Illustrated by Georgia Pow Graham.

Edmonton, Tree Frog Press, c1983.
26pp, paper, $5.95.
ISBN 0-88967-047-1.

Grades 3 and up.
Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson.

Volume 12 Number 3
1984 May

The author of the Bonnie McSmithers series has produced another bit of fun for young readers. Wanda and brothers, Willy and baby Walter II, who glurbles instead of talking are children in a very democratic home. Parents, Vanessa and Max, are, respectively, a poet and an artist, but "to make money" Vanessa is a free-lance mechanic and Max, a house painter. The children's decision via a family council to acquire a dog for the back seat of Butterfly, the family car, serves as the initiating action to bring the whole family into conflict with a pair of bad guys. T. Rexford, the Pound Man, supplies a pup that grows prodigiously. Willy teaches Transziggidy, the dog, tricks such as how to retrieve Walter II whenever he gets lost or how to play "catching crooks." A letter from Aunt Tweedle announces her intention to visit for three weeks. In contrast to the optimistic family whose motto is "there's a rose in every cabbage," Aunt Tweedle is a Gloomy Pessimist Who Sees the Worst in Everybody and Everything While Talking in Words Beginning with Upper Case Letters. Aunt Tweedle's "allergy" to pets sends Transziggidy back to the pound, which faces closure because of overcrowding. The family mounts a "Save our Pound" campaign culminating in a family float in the Comet Day parade that celebrates Earth's passage through the tail of Hartley's comet. Two crooks, who want to obtain the pound property because of the old gold mine beneath it, try to stop the family's efforts by kidnapping Walter II. Transziggidy corrals the villains during the parade and then finds Walter II, whom the inept kidnappers had lost. Every thing ends happily; even Aunt Tweedle may have found Romance with the Pound Man.

Alderson adds a self-concept dimension to the book. Willy does not perceive himself as special, but rather, "I'm just Willy-in the middle," and Wanda undervalues her art abilities because Max will not let her paint with him. Since the tricks Willy taught Transziggidy and Wanda's crook sketches led to Walter II's recovery, the children experience improved self images. They even realize that Aunt Tweedle "doesn't feel special in good ways, so she tries to be special any old way she can."

A baker's dozen illustrations by Graham reinforce Alderson's humour though Aunt Tweedle appears to be younger than the text suggests. While a good read-to-book or a title for personal reading, the story line is for pleasure, not close analysis,

Dave Jenkimon, Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB.
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