Reviews for Seadogs: An Epic Ocean Operetta

by Lisa Wheeler and Mark Siegel

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

In the wordless sequence that opens this swashbuckling comic-strip "operetta," a puppy settles into her theater seat, actors put on makeup and the curtain rises on five singing sailor dogs. A canine chorus, which makes regular appearances, howls rhyming verses about three excitement-seeking hounds. As the chorus sets the scene in a port town worthy of R.L. Stevenson (or Gilbert and Sullivan), cartoon images depict an alehouse meeting between a scruffy schnauzer called Old Seadog, a flop-eared heroine named Brave Beagle and a loyal ship's cook known as Dear Dachshund. The trio repairs a "bonny ship" and sets sail: "Then fare you well, ol' Corgytown,/ fare you well, we sing./ We're off to find adventure where/ a dog can be a king!" As they come under attack from pirates led by Jacques Fifi ("the Terrier of the Sea"), shanties titled "The Mongrel Horde" and "Disembarking" chart their fitful progress toward buried treasure. Debut illustrator Siegel divides the pages into tight panels of pen-and-ink and digital color, and pays close attention to the shipboard cabins and rigging. He deftly details the characters and settings, shifting from the high seas to the theater interior with disarming ease, and he plays up the coy allusions (one image of snarling pirates is attributed to "N.C. Waggeth," and the doggy villains stage a "Muttiny" against their dandyish captain). Readers may find themselves skipping Wheeler's (Wool Gathering) lengthy songs in favor of Siegel's pictorial storytelling, which keeps this sometimes soggy yarn-within-a-yarn afloat. Ages 7-10. (Feb.) (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 1-4-Wheeler and Siegel do many things well in their comic-book-style story, but an unnecessarily convoluted plot ultimately sinks this lighthearted adventure. The opening illustrations show an excited pup arriving at the theater and the canine cast members getting ready backstage. Once the curtain rises, the tale is related through funny songs and verses. Old Seadog (the captain), Brave Beagle, and her love (a cowardly dachshund) set sail on the Beauty. They soon encounter a "Mongrel Horde" led by Captain Jacques Fifi. As the three friends hide, the pirates board their ship, loot it, and then, surprisingly, return to their own vessel. During the raid, Captain Fifi accidentally drops a treasure map and a stowaway sneaks aboard. This chubby little pup soon wins Old Seadog's heart. The heroes sail to the treasure isle and find the hoard, only to lose it again, but in the end, they realize that their true treasure is adventure and love. The text contains a good deal of whimsical humor and wordplay. The catchy verses milk the canine puns for all they're worth, but this slows the pace considerably. The cartoons add detail and comic twists; they often belie the words they accompany to ironic effect. Ultimately, the story feels a bit forced and drawn out; the pirates lack bite and adults will best appreciate much of the humor. With not enough action and too much verse, this venture comes up short.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


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

PreS\endash Gr. 2. A little Victorian girl dog goes to see a performance of Seadogs, an operetta, in this bouncy, colorful picture book that unfolds in detailed, comics-like panels. Children experience the event from the eager pup's largely silent perspective, getting a few backstage peeks as well as views of the audience and orchestra\emdash and of the performance itself. The operetta concerns an old seadog who gathers a crew for one last adventure\emdash among them, a good-hearted bar mistress and a young pup of dubious ancestry. The lyrics to the songs, usually boxed, tell about what's going on in the present (the daily chores, the unexpected appearance of pirates) and about the life each old dog left to come aboard. The little girl pup loves the show and remembers lively scenes from it in her memory as the hansom cab carries her away. A delightful book to share with pre-readers, who can return to the pictures on their own and relive the tandem stories of a grown-up night out and an epic voyage. Melodies for the songs would have made this graphic novel for the picture-book set even better. --Francisca Goldsmith Copyright 2004 Booklist

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