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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Imagine singing these words to Beethoven’s marvelous tune of Ode to Joy: "Joyful, loyal, playful bassets,/ We all love the basset hound,/ Best of friends with kindest assets,/ They will never let you down./ Short on legs but not in spirit,/ Bassets will bring you heaps of fun,/ Give them treats of tasty fillet,/ While they nap in morning sun.” Sing it once and the tune and words will enrapture your mind for days. Now, imagine two such delightful basset hounds, Phoebe and Fred, howling along as they roar in their owner’s Jaguar recklessly through town. Yes, you’re right, the bassets have now stolen a car and are actually driving it. And that’s where the fun and adventure begin. Meanwhile, the owners have only just clued into the rambunctious activities of their basset hounds.
Nathaniel S. Johnson’s novella, Pheobe and Fred, is a rollicking chase after the hounds. Be prepared to laugh till you cry as this adventure unfolds with reckless abandon, much like the basset Jaguar drivers. Beginning with a placid, typical morning routine, the plot quickly evolves as the Watson family, innocently preparing their breakfast, learn that their beloved basset hounds have escaped. And, not only have they escaped, but they have roared off in Henry’s cherished Jaguar. If Henry wasn’t fully awake while preparing breakfast, the realization that the hounds had run off with his car certainly woke him up. The tension in the plot builds as the Jaguar recklessly plows through the small town. The story is told with the comfortable ease of a seasoned storyteller, with lots of descriptive narrative and compelling dialogue. Overall, this is a fun read for all ages, something to sit by the fireside on a cold winter’s night and share with the family.