As I sit here trying to come up with something to write about this fantastic book the kids got for International Book Giving Day (it’s a thing, I promise I did not make that up), I have two dogs wrestling (loving) at my feet. As I try to take photos of said book, I’m constantly having to push them out of the frame and do my best to stay upright myself. They are our dog Angus and our friend’s dog, North. They are best friends. When our friend comes over without North, Angus runs out to his truck to wait for North to jump out (only to realize that he’s not there after all, at which point Angus lies dejectedly in a corner for the rest of the afternoon). But now our friend is here to visit for a good long while and so it’s all loving all the time around here.
They’re very different dogs. North is a full sized yellow lab, probably 65 pounds or so. He’s very well trained- like the kind of well trained where he will sit until he’s released. Angus is a mutt of a chocolate lab, possibly with some dachshund in him- his body, head, and tail look like a normal labrador, but his legs are only about four inches long. We call him a weinador, and he maybe weighs 35. He’s not particularly well trained. Somehow we’ve become the people whose dog has taken over the couch, and when I tell him to sit he immediately rolls over onto his back and gets so excited he still sometimes pees himself a little. But still, they’re both pups (about 2-ish), they’re both gentle with the kids, and they both equally love a rollicking good play sesh or curling into each other for a nap, yin yang style. They live for one another.
The whole thing leads me very nicely into today’s story, Gaston, by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Christian Robinson. I included it in my ten favorite picture books from 2014 over on Mamalode, and lo and behold, the International Book Giving Fairy brought it to our home.
Oddly enough, the storyline revolves around a very complicated and difficult situation without dwelling too much on the serious aspect of it all. Gaston, a French bulldog, is born into a family of French poodles, with three tiny sisters each as precious and polite as can be.
All the preciousness and politeness don’t seem to come naturally to Gaston, who has to work harder than his sisters to be dainty. But he practices and practices and is quite happy to be in his family (though he seems to be growing at a faster rate than his petite sisters).
One day at the park, they find a French bulldog family of bruisers with one tiny sister who stands out, Antoinette. She is, it seems, a French poodle. Just like Gaston’s family, one of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong. They all realize right away what must have happened, and switch the puppies back. It would be the natural thing to do anyway, right? Simple as that.
Of course it’s not as simple as that. Antoinette has been raised among the brutish bulldogs, she has no need for darling little baubles. And Gaston has been raised thus far by the stylish and refined poodles and is kind of turned off by his true brothers’ behavior.
So they suppose the easiest thing is for them to switch back to their old families, and they do. Major identity crisis averted apparently- but we don’t need to concern ourselves with the lasting ramifications of such a complete screw up, because both families end up meeting daily in the park after all this, and Gaston and Antoinette actually eventually fall in dog love.
Have you come across Gaston? What are your thoughts?