Reviews for Help Me, Mr. Mutt!

by Janet Stevens

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Joining that other epistle-toting dog LaRue (first met in Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School, 2002), self-described "Canine Counselor" Mr. Mutt fires off savvy solutions for correspondents with a string of doggy dilemmas, from enforced diets and silly costumes to humans who'd rather watch TV than play "fetch." Reminding readers (two-legged ones too, perchance) that it's entirely natural for dogs to bark, play and maybe get a little rank, and also that "it's a dog-eat-treat world," Mr. Mutt suggests coping strategies ("If your people get you in the tub, start shaking"), many of which involve some harassment of the local felines. That last draws counterfire from the Counselor's own cat and, ultimately, a brief coup—depicted in the gleefully disorderly watercolors by a view of the chubby writer tied to his own desk chair with real yarn—that muzzles Mr. Mutt until he's rescued by a charging squad of loyal fans. A host of hilarious dog portraits provide further treats. Three licks ("People call it kisses. We call it dessert.") for the Stevens sisters. (Picture book. 6-8) Copyright ŠKirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Sisters Stevens and Crummel, dog lovers both, share their affection for canines in this oversize picture book that both adults and kids will like. Bespectacled canine counselor Mr. Mutt dispenses advice to dogs suffering clueless humans and spoiled rotten cats. When Famished in Florida (whose tummy is a mere inch from the floor) moans about too little kibble, Mr. Mutt offers strategies: hang around a baby's high chair. It's raining food.  As Mutt tippy-taps advice on his typewriter, tiara-wearing Queen the cat pens snarky responses to those who disparage her species. Finally, having suffered one too many canine cuts, Queen gives  Muttface  his due. Art and text work seemlessly, with plenty of visual and verbal jokes (including goofy sketches and graphs) to entice repeated readings. Even the endpapers are part of the fun, and as usual, Stevens' animals have so much personality, kids will find themselves wanting to take them home. . . well, maybe not Queen.--Zvirin, Stephanie Copyright 2008 Booklist

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 1-4-Mr. Mutt is a bespectacled, slightly pudgy, clearly focused canine counselor who answers letters from other dogs who have misunderstandings with their humans in this entertaining romp (Harcourt, 2008) by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel. He shares his Dogwood abode with The Queen, a haughty feline who wears a tiara. She contributes her distinctly catty point of view on personalized pink stationary along with Mr. Mutt's. The result provides distinctly different perspectives and perceptions that together create laugh-out loud humor. Illustrations are equally funny, extending and sometimes taking over for the text. (There's a great chase scene that is only revealed through newspaper headlines and illustration, for example.) The Stevens sisters read the letters, capturing the tone and attitude of Mr. Mutt and his nemesis, The Queen. Unobtrusive background music enhances the tenor of the text. Page-turn signals are optional. This well-paced, thoroughly engaging, visually entertaining tale is packed with humor that runs the gamut from understated to slapstick.-Maria Salvadore, formerly Washington DC Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Every dog has its rough day now and then, which in this high-energy picture book calls for a letter to Mr. Mutt, Canine Counselor. Whether addressing a dog put on a diet by his people, or a pooch who's scolded for barking too much, Mr. Mutt offers a written note of nuts-and-bolts advice (to the hungry dog, he recommends searching the trash, etc.) and anti-cat commentary. His snooty, tiara-wearing cat companion, The Queen, takes issue with his "catty remarks," writing rebuttals on pink stationery. Similar to Mark Teague's Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School in both theme and epistolary format, this sister act's (The Great Fuzz Frenzy) effort lacks LaRue's narrative flow and clever situational humor. Stevens's mixed-media scenes of the pets' ultimate altercation contain the most fun: The Queen demonstrates her prowess with a digitally manipulated ball of yarn as she, taking umbrage at a feline insult, keeps her canine cohort too "tied up" to help his correspondents out of the doghouse. Ages 3-7. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 2-4-With tongue firmly in cheek, the dynamic Stevens sisters have crafted a multilayered story that looks at various situations in the life of an average dog. Through a series of letters to Mr. Mutt, a doggie version of Dear Abby, the text invites readers to learn about the tribulations of "Underplayed in Utah" or "Famished in Florida" and the encouragement they garner from their correspondences. Each letter has its own distinctive style depending on the complaint and the writer's personality but all end with a postscript that refers to the treatment or behavior of cats in the household. Mr. Mutt ends each reply with his own postscript that refers to the cat that shares his home. Here, the book rises to another level of humor with the inclusion of additional commentary from "The Queen," the supremely superior feline who keeps Mr. Mutt in his place. The tension between them builds throughout the letters until a physical confrontation occurs near the end of the story. Mr. Mutt's replies to the dogs in distress include many sketches of "illustrated tips" as well as a variety of graphs to substantiate the advice. While the story will find fans in the primary grades, its most appreciative audience will be among more sophisticated readers who will recognize the amount of effort that went into this creative venture. It's a great read just for fun, and teachers will find a wealth of ways to incorporate it into lessons on letter writing, newspapers, and presenting information through graphs.-Maura Bresnahan, High Plain Elementary School, Andover, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

In this witty collection of letters, Mr. Mutt, "Canine Counselor," offers helpful, hilarious advice to dogs who write about their people problems. Since his replies include disparaging remarks about cats, the resident feline (known as "The Queen") threatens to shut down his operation. Expressive mixed-media illustrations feature a haughty kitty, complete with tiara, and a comical array of beleaguered dogs. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.