In Print

Henry the dog with no tail

Tale of a tail

By Steve Myrick - November 15, 2007

"Henry the Dog With No Tail," Kate Feiffer, Illustrated by Jules Feiffer, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2007, 32 pages. $16.99

Finding one's place in the world is never an easy proposition. For evidence, just check out the self-help section the next time you visit a bookstore. It is filled with tomes promising to help us undo all the things we have learned so far, so that we may be thinner, smarter, richer, more organized, less stressed, more spiritual, less fill-in-the-blank.

If these books really help, why is there always such a large market for them? Should not we all be self-helped enough already?

Maybe, just maybe, the answer is in another section, the children's section.

The real Henry. Photo by Lynn Christoffers
"Henry the Dog with No Tail," is by Island resident Kate Feiffer, and illustrated by her father Jules Feiffer, a Pulitzer Prize winning illustrator and writer who is a seasonal Vineyard resident. Henry is a real dog, an Australian shepherd who lives with Ms. Feiffer and her family, and he really has no tail.

The story is about Henry's long search for self. Like most of us, he makes the mistake of focusing on what he does not have, instead of what he has.

His adventurous journey to find the tail he so desperately wishes for is a whimsical jaunt through the childhood foibles of jealousy, peer pressure, bullying, and moping. All is accomplished with a light, humorous touch, and not preachy moralism.

Adults will get a chuckle out of the word tricks Ms. Feiffer employs. Children will follow the tale for its adventure and suspense.

Maybe, after reading "Henry, the Dog with No Tail," both can avoid the self-help section for a while.

Author's Talk and Signing: Kate Feiffer, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2 pm. Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, Main St., Vineyard Haven. 508-693-2291.