June 07, 2016

Spare Dog Parts

by Alison Hughes
Illustrated by Ashley Spires
Orca Book Publishers
32 pp.
Ages 4-7
January 2016

Spare Dog Parts is for every dog lover who knows that the perfect mutt may be a motley amalgam of odd and sods that others may pooh-pooh but she is the best of everything.

In this fun story, a lab coat-clad young girl seems to create her perfect pooch out of a miscellany of body, legs, paws, tail and facial features.  What could be a frightening prospect of manufacturing a living creature is instead a light-hearted look at how a little girl visualizes the conception of her loving and much-loved pet.
There were no more matching sets of legs left, so my dog got a spare brown leg, a black one, a white one with black spots, and one that couldn't make up its mind if it was white or not. (pg. 11)
From Spare Dog Parts by Alison Hughes, illus. by Ashley Spires
This dog may look a bit like a Frankenstein of a mutt, but she has a sweet disposition and “knows all the important things.  Like where the sunbeam falls. And the sound of food. And when someone needs her.” (pg. 21-25)

The message behind Alison Hughes’ whimsical story is one of acceptance and appreciation and one that true pet-lovers already know.
When my dog was made, they used leftover parts,
But somehow, when they fit them together
          like a big
             dog puzzle...
                ...they made a perfect dog.
(pg. 28-31)
Teaming Alison Hughes’ story up with the artwork of Ashley Spires, creator of award-winning characters such as Binky and Larf and Small Saul, is inspired.  Ashley Spires knows about creating love from bits and pieces and about that which makes a pet so lovable.  I’m sure that this little girl is not unlike Ashley Spires herself, trying things out, analyzing the best combination and finally coming up with perfection.

Spare Dog Parts emulates its message that it’s not the parts that are important but the whole, and the whole is full and finished and flawless.

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