Two Dogs – Ian Falconer


Harper Collins Australia

November 2022

  • ISBN: 9780008399863
  • ISBN 10: 0008399867
  • Imprint: HarperCollins GB

RRP: $24.99

Vale Ian Falconer. 25/08/1959 8/03/2023

I think it’s actually quite ironic that I had put off reviewing this charmingly hilarious book. The news of Falconer’s death two weeks ago came as quite a shock to many and we are all the poorer for it. You may not have seen this wonderful tribute to him from the New Yorker and also this one from The NY Times.

All of us are familiar with the delightful Olivia books but perhaps not so many are aware that Falconer was also the creator of many New Yorker covers as well as a talented set and costume designer for ballet and opera.

He won the Caldecott medal for Olivia in 2001 and went on to create another dozen books in the series about a tiny pig with a big personality, a character he initially created as a Christmas gift for his niece.

Just as he did throughout the Olivia series, Falconer has embedded much sly humour in this final book about two rambunctious dachshunds which adults will heartily appreciate, but may escape your youngest readers. Those of us who have owned dachsies will immediately connect with the mischief these two make!

When Perry and Augie are left alone in the house one day, they decide they would much rather be outside. After some typical brotherly sniping, they manage to unlock the back door and let themselves out into the yard where they have the most marvellous of times – particularly, swimming in the pool, and the delight of all dachshunds – digging! Do they know they’ve been naughty? Well yes, they do and when they hear their human returning, it’s a swift retreat back to the house and the clever ruse of barking hysterically out the window, in their usual response to seeing an intruder in the garden. Of course, their owner is fooled and has nothing but praise for the two sweet innocent pooches.

I have now shared this book with numerous classes from Prep to Year 3 and the kiddos all rock with laughter at the thought of the dogs putting one over their owner. It is a joy to read and with Falconer’s signature understated illustrations becomes all the more amusing. The expressions on the two dogs faces are priceless and the children love that they can discern the two different personalities just from those.

Highly recommended for your readers from about Prep upwards and even much older children will enjoy the visual literacy aspect of this one.

2 responses »

  1. Thank you for writing this wonderful tribute to Ian Falconer and his final book! It’s heartening to hear about his significant contributions beyond the Olivia series. I’m intrigued by the sly humor you mentioned and I’m wondering, what other themes and messages does this book touch on?

    Mr. W

    • There is a lot that adults would infer but might need to be pointed out to children such as the disobedience, the justification of actions,reading expressions or body language. It certainly would enable kiddos to make connections re siblings (both getting on with them or otherwise), differences in siblings’ personalities, shades of truthfulness, knowingly disobeying, getting carried away with excitement – very relatable for younger kids I think.

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