Old Toffer’s Book of Consequential Dogs

Almost 80 years after the publication of TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, Faber & Faber have published a companion volume, Old Toffer’s Book of Consequential Dogs. Reid’s collection of poetry is utterly charming and written in the same whimsical style as Eliot’s, while Elam’s powerful illustrations are reminiscent of Disney’s early animation style.

Every canine personality you’ve ever known is in this clever collection, from Boffo dogs who are horribly hearty and ready to party, to philosophical foxhounds who are better known for sport than profundity of mind. Reid, who is an award-winning children’s poet, has really got to the core of canine psychology, with a poem to honour all of the various doggy types, including Dobson the detective dog, Lola the dog who ran away with the circus when she could bear apartment living no longer, and Leopold the lapdog who has everything but nothing.

There are strays, street dogs, clever dogs and fighting dogs, all of whom are beautifully represented by illustrator Elliot Elam. Each poem has a full-page illustration, and the use of black, white and yellow ochre is very striking, while the Requiem and Pelican fonts also add to its 1930s style. The illustrations truly capture the individual qualities of these consequential dogs.

A fabulous, uplifting, clever collection of poetry for all ages.