What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that a despondent dog attempts suicide by jumping from a bridge (he doesn't succeed). Sensitive children may be disturbed by the way the dog is treated by his owners.
What's the story?
Gulliver is a purebred Lhasa Apso with a plush life. Belonging to a single professor, he lives in a luxurious apartment on New York's Park Avenue, has the best food, listens to opera, and summers in Paris. All that changes when his master marries an allergic woman, and gives Gulliver to his doorman, who lives with a rambunctious family in a crowded apartment in Queens. So Gulliver begins a series of journeys, attempting to regain some part of his previous life.
Is it any good?
This genially subversive animal story calls into question the central virtue we associate with dogs: loyalty. In most children's books of this type, Gulliver's journey would be to make his way back home, and back into the affections of his master, but ordinary messages and sentiment have never been author Tor Seidler's way. Gulliver is loyal to his professor, but this is not reciprocated, and when the professor sets him aside for his lady love all too easily, even young readers will perceive that loyalty must be earned and deserved, and can be misplaced.
The next easy route for an author would be to have Gully's new family be wonderful in their boisterous, lower-class way, thus playing up the usual message that the poor are somehow more virtuous than the rich. But in this story, they don't treat him very well either. Seidler avoids the pitfalls and keeps taking his story in surprising directions until the messages (if there are any) and the plot are as messy and unpredictable as, well, life.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the way we treat our pets. What is right or wrong with the way Gully is treated by each of his owners? Why does Gully change his mind about who he wants? What lessons does Gully learn? What is the author trying to say about loyalty?