A Dog Named Doug
by Karma Wilson & Matt Myers
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2018
The titular dog in A Dog Named Doug, written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Matt Myers, is a happy suburban dog who has a nice doghouse in a manicured back yard – and who has one abiding passion: Doug loves to dig. He digs small holes. He digs large holes. And he's proud of his work. He responds to challenges with pure merriment: “Once he dug up a ground squirrel's nest./The feisty squirrel was not impressed!/'I can dig better than you!'/Doug howled with laughter. 'Let's see if that's true!'”
As a contest, it's not even close. The holes Doug digs swallow whole tractors; they reveal long-buried treasure; they open up new veins in old gold mines. And they lead our happy-go-lucky hero to all kinds of strange places. He winds up on (or really under) Easter Island, on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, on the African savannah, on a golf course, and even in a mummy's tomb!
And perhaps the strangest place he finds himself is the White House, often famed as a home for dog-lovers and sometimes plagued by dogs who love to dig (although none so industriously as Doug). In the White House he pauses to look at a portrait on the wall – President Lyndon Johnson and one of his famous beagles – and he upends the Resolution Desk in the Oval Office before he digs himself back home.
Exhausted, he digs his way into the house and sprawls out on the bed of his owners for the night – but he's dreaming of digging deep, deep holes on faraway worlds.
Both Karma Wilson and Matt Myers have long track records of writing and illustrating popular kids books, and that polished, perfected skill is evident on every page of A Dog Named Doug. The book is a pure, light-hearted romp that will delight both dog-loving children and the parents reading to them.
Steve Donoghue was a founding editor of Open Letters Monthly. His book criticism has appeared in the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, and the American Conservative. He writes regularly for the National, the Washington Post, the Vineyard Gazette, and the Christian Science Monitor. His website is http://www.stevedonoghue.com.