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Reviewed by Fiona Ingram for Readers' Favorite
In the Dog House by J.R. Poulter is a rambunctious tale for young readers about an odd family, but in fact, as one reads on, it’s not such an odd family at all. There’s Uncle Murgatroyd, Pop, his Aussie nephew, Ma and young BC (Bang Crash, for obvious reasons!). They all live at Gaul Stones, a crumbling family pile. Uncle Murgatroyd is irate and for good reason. An inherited suit of armour, worn by an illustrious ancestor at the battle of Bog’Nall, is not only stuffed with lolly-papers, but it’s now on fire because someone has used it as an ash tray. Mayhem ensues as family members try to put the fire out. They don’t have to go far to find the culprit. Chip (a pipe smoker!) and his wife, Berga, Pop’s “rellies” from Down Under have not only ensconced themselves in the house, but seem to have already outstayed their welcome. How can the family get rid of these unwelcome guests? Putting them in the attic for the night seems to be the answer. However, the attic is already occupied by an inhabitant that doesn’t take kindly to Chip and Berga. Interestingly, nature takes its course in the way only Mother Nature can…
Illustrations by Terry Hand make the story come alive, in fact, almost so far as to leap off the pages. Large fonts every now and again for emphasis on actions are the kind of thing that young readers will love in this comic book style layout. The illustrations make one think of Gaul Stones as a kind of Fawlty Towers with a lot of ‘fawlty’ antics and upheaval. This story is all about action and each page is vibrant, energetic, and captivating. There’s a lot for youngsters to enjoy. I loved BC’s bookshelf with his interest in mummies and pyramids. The dinner table fiasco as Pog (Chip's dog, Pog, who had been banished to the old outhouse/'dog house') takes a flying leap to get at the “something yumshous” (Ma’s Spaghetti Bolognaise) is wonderfully chaotic and is a visual feast in itself. Young readers will love this story and the style of action contained in the illustrations and text. This is the kind of story that boys who are not keen on reading will love.