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  • Writer's picturePicture Book Snob

The secret life of dogs

Dogs in Disguise by Peter Bently and John Bond, Harpercollins

If ever there was a book that could win you over based on its title alone, it's Dogs in Disguise. And it delivers all the fun that its terrific title promises - and more! The first time we sat down with this story, my kids kept requesting another reading, over and over again. They sat through it six times and would have kept going if I hadn't put a stop to the encores. Since then, I can never get away without reading it at least three times in a row! Luckily, I love this side-splitting story every bit as much as my kids!

So what's it about? Well, dogs in disguise, of course! Are you a dog owner? Have items of clothing ever mysteriously disappeared or become inexplicably dirty or damaged? It could be because your dogs are dressing up in them when your back is turned!

Dogs in Disguise reveals that 'dogs all start early to learn dressing-up' and that 'the grown-up dogs teach it to every young pup.' And if you're, 'somewhere that dogs are forbidden, there are sure to be pooches, all cleverly hidden.' You just need to look closely enough to spot them!

This book is packed with camouflaged canines who pretend to be people. They can sneak past 'no dogs allowed' signs and indulge in exclusively human pursuits like shopping and fine dining without being detected. Some dogs can pull this off better than others but either way, the results are HILARIOUS.

This is one of the funniest books ever written for children. It has us in stitches as soon as we start turning the pages and right up to the end. Peter Bently's text is genius and John Bond's illustrations make the story even more amusing. I love how the dogs manage to look serious and bonkers at the same time. The humans look just as daft, especially when angrily chasing, shouting or waving their fists at dogs.

My daughters' get particularly hysterical at the reaction of a picnicking human whose food is swiped. The cinema scene always cracks them up, especially the reappearance of a family of French bulldogs that we meet earlier on in the story. They find the Café Celeste intriguing (and want to go there). The four-year-old says that's where the chef dog (that we see later on) learned how to chop carrots so well. The cockapoo cosmonauts always induce fits of laughter, in me as well as my children. Having met a few cockapoos, I find this a brilliant touch. The expressions of these mars-bound mutts, as gravity-free dog treats float around their rocketship, are absolutely priceless.

The dog in high heels and the puppy with shoes tied to its head always get a great reaction here too. What actually brought me to tears on the first reading was when we discovered what the worst doggy disguise is. I am not going to spoil this for anyone - it's worth seeking out the book for this alone.

The lively rhyming text, bright colours, bold shapes and all the animals will appeal to children as young as two. Yet it's entertaining enough to engage children as old as six or seven. My eldest will be seven in a couple of months and she enjoys it just as much as her four-year-old sibling. Dogs in Disguise is wonderfully witty and adorably absurd with sensational illustrations. But be warned: it may cause uncontrollable fits of giggles and you might never look at your neighbours the same way again!

The hardback edition of Dogs in Disguise was published by HarperCollins in September 2021 and this paperback was released in February 2022. Thanks so much to the lovely people in HarperCollins for sharing this terrific book with us - all opinions expressed are our own.


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