DesignLifeNostalgia

BowWowWow, Yippee-O, Yippee-A!

mrdog

misterdogcrocOk, so I’m in the grocery store the other day and while I was walking down the aisle between the fine products from Campbell’s Soup Company and the displays of healthy Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups there was a sidecap rack with Little Golden Books on it. (Not to be confused with the German dog food brand, seen at right.)

Never one to pass by a literary opportunity, I glanced over at the rack and perused the title held within. What caught my eye was an intriguing tome labeled, “Mister Dog”. Even more intriguing was the fact that in 2008 there was a book marketed to children with a cover illustration of a dog smoking a pipe!

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Now, I don’t know what was in Mister Dog’s pipe, but I do know what it felt like *I* had been smoking after reading this book. I’m not sure I can do the crazy, mixed-up world of Mister Dog justice, but suffice it to say that I bought that book then and there! The story generally follows the adventures of a dog that belonged to himself, with the challenging name of Crispin’s Crispian. Who is Crispin? Is the dog Crispin and “Crispian” is a term of endearment? Is it one of those weird cultural oddities, like “Carl’s Jr.” or  “Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse”? 

8c8a7e93c8f83e5a1aca6ca0d877dcaaAnyway, the dog screws around, then meets a boy who is apparently a runaway. They go buy some food and take it back to the two-story doghouse, where they eat and go to sleep. The boy helps him clean the house. The dog almost never stops smoking. And was he chewing on his own hat? I wouldn’t put it past him, he is a dog. Seriously, it’s just some crazy-ass stuff. But don’t take my word for it, why not read this fine review. I wish Michael Bay would concentrate on classics to adapt like Mister Dog, rather than that Transformers crap.

The sad dénouement of all this was finding out that this was the last story of the author, Margaret Wise Brown. Ms. Brown was more famous as the writer of the wistful tale of nighttime ritual, “Goodnight, Moon”. But while on a promotional tour of Europe she fell ill and was hospitalized. After recuperating somewhat she tried to demonstrate her renewed health to her nurse by performing a high-kick, which triggered a sudden embolism that killed her on the spot. Oh, and she also owned a dog named “Crispin’s Crispian”, so I guess that explains that.

3 comments

  • Many thanks for including a link to my essay about Mister Dog and its links to my childhood and NYC history. I’ll read this essay and other material at The Gotham History Center at the CUNY Graduate Center in midtown Manhattan, 365 Fifth Avenue, NYC, on Wednesday evening March 26th at 6:30 p.m.

    Best regards –
    Benjamin Feldman

  • My grandfather read this book to me when I was a child, and his father read it to him. I long forgot about the book until this past Sunday, Father’s Day of all holidays, my grandfather gave me a brand new crisp copy of the book. It filled my heart to see all of the beautiful, warm illustrations that I fell in love with as a child… that house, come on, thats a dream house right there. Cozy and clean and with a little chimney – thats happiness right there. But then I also realized how bizzare it was that this dog was a smoker! I never really realized… but he was just a simple dog who enjoyed simple things. Kind of like my grandpa. In any event, its great to hear from someone just being introduced to Crispin’s Crispian as a grown up. I also wanted to randomly share with you that I’m in fact Directing a short film adaption of Mister Dog. You should definitely check it out. No Michael Bay could touch this story… I hope to do it justice. Great article and hold on to the book… your kids just may get a kick out of it.

    Angelina

  • I’m so glad you saw that little book, i’ve been trying to remember the story that crispins crispian came from but was too young to know its true name. Now i can prove it existed and im not mad ! haha!! thanku!!! xxx

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