Friday 18 February 2011

A letter from Bella Boo...

It’s was all go at Book Sniffer Towers yesterday with an abundance of canine frolics – The day started with a telegram from non-other than Sir Mick Inkpen – what a coo, he’s the creator of Kipper the dog who happens to have made it to the grand old age of 21 this year – which is good going as I believe the average age of a mutt of his type is about 9 – Hurrah Well Done Kipper and Happy Birthday to you. (I hope that Mick makes you a cake like the presenters used to do on Blue Peter)

Kipper - not looking bad for 21 - Image (c) Mick Inkpen

Well the day just got more and more exciting as we had word that our letter to another famous gang of mutts had reached The Hamlet of Smith.  
It is simply not possible that the brand new series of books for young readers Claude has escaped you. They are tippity top of my list of best reads – although strictly not a picture book they are filled to bursting point with illustrations by cad about town Alex T Smith.
We’ll you’d never have guessed it but Alex is a big fan of small dogs so I dipped my pen in my ink pot and penned a letter to Alex’s dogs – Bella Boo (Big Chihuahua) Billy Bongo (The Tiny Chihuahua) and The Yorkie (Lucy Locket)

The letter read as follows…

Dear Big Chihuahua,
                              From one pedigree canine to another we are lead to believe you co-habit with a certain hugely talented author illustrator and general cad about town Mr Alex T Smith (and his wife the lovely Mrs Smith). This caused a great stir in Book Sniffer Towers and I wondered if you wouldn’t mind  answering a few questions for us as I must say I am a huge fan of Claude and his super sophisticated beret.                

1-     When planning a big night on the tiles which of your many snazzy jumpers do you favour?
2-     If you could float anywhere tied to a balloon where would you go?
3-     Is it true that Mr Alex T Smith wanted to be a rabbit when he was younger?
4-     Have you ever met this Claude fellow everyone keeps talking about?

A personal note to your companions so that they don’t feel left out–

Dear Tiny Chihuahua (Billy Bongo) – Pray tell, DO you have any tips on how best to wear a neck tie with flair? I’m toying with the idea of getting a cravat but failing that I will be investing in a neckerchief.

Dear Yorkie – Is it true you snore?

Yours Sincerely

Mr P Book Sniffer

Guess what?  They replied almost immediately! and here is what they said …

Hello Mr. P Book Sniffer

It's Bella Boo, aka The Big Chihuahua, here! Mind you that is a bit
rich as I'm not THAT big - I'm just bigger than my friend Mr. Billy
Bongo because he is a pipsqueak. As my daddy Alex T Smith says, '
It's just a shame his mouth isn't as small as the rest of him!' I' m
telling you it's a wonder I haven't gone mad from all the barking he

Anyway I'm delighted that you have got in contact with me and I'm
thrilled to be interviewed by such a notable pooch. You've caught me
at just the right time as I generally rest until almost lunch time
before getting on with all my jobs after lunch - you know, brushing
my fur, tidying up my ears and practicing smiling politely in the
mirror for at least an hour . People think my pampered lifestyle is
easy, but I don't think they realise how much hard work goes in to
making me look *this* good...

So your questions ( and my answers)

1. As an increasingly well known canine ( Mummy and I DID win the
Best Six Legs Category at the local RSPCA dog show I'll have you
know!), I find that I always have to look my best as you never
know when someone is going to leap out at you and thrust a zoom lens
in your direction. Generally before going out I make sure that my
ginger fur is looking shiny and like I've just stepped out of a
(doggy) salon. I practice my eyelash fluttering and double check that
I haven't got anything stuck between my teeth as that would be
absolutely mortifying. I am a huge fan of America's Next Top Model
so I always make sure that I am ready to SMIZE* should the
opportunity arise ( it invariably does....)

As for what I wear, I have an extensive range of outdoor clothing
( well you have to don't you?) but this season I have been mostly
working country chic and wearing my waxed jacket with the check
lining with the fur trimmed collar popped to give me the carefree,
yet polished air of a Sloane ranger... The look seems to be working
for me as I get a lot of attention in the street. Reports that I play
up to it and roll over and wiggle my bottom in the air are all lies
and if I here them one more time I'll call in my lawyers....

2. Float tied to a balloon?! Never would I do such a thing! That's
more Billy Bongo's sort of thing as I'm a peach and I'm frightened of
ABSOLUTELY everything out of the ordinary , I much prefer to be carried
wherever I go in my special dog carrying bag. I go everywhere in
this. I was in this traveling on the train with DADDY when I met
former Bond star Britt Ekland and her chihuahua. His curiosity was
aroused when he saw me pass by with my head poking out the top. Of
course I had to stop for a chat, but I get a bit wobbly on the train
at rush hour so I gave him my best wishes and carried on to first
class to my seat so I could have a rest with my eye mask on and with
the blinds drawn down for Lawd's sake...

3. As much as it embarrasses me to say, that is true.... It was all
before my time I'm glad to say, but the story goes he spent half of
his childhood snuffling around in a den he made behind an armchair
pretending he was a rabbit and the other half sitting on the stairs
pretending to be a squirrel in his tree house... I'm just glad he
found some crayons and started to draw one day otherwise I wouldn't
be sitting here in the lap of luxury writing this, I'd be dressed in
a black balaclava, shimmying up a drain pipe trying to break him out
of the nut house!

Having said that all this drawing and colouring he does is all well
and good, but I think some day soon he'll have to think about getting
a proper job.... get out of the house a bit... give me five minutes
to myself instead of picking me up all the while and tickling my belly.

4. Well I am glad to say I have met Claude - lovely chap and quite
dishy too. I like how he wears his beret and keeps his jumper nice
and tidy. We met through a mutual friend - Mrs. Slightly chewed-
Slipper and hit it off right away. He says if I play my cards right
he'll take me out one day for a juicy bone baguette! I said' lose
the sock and I'll think about it...' It's best to treat them mean to
keep them keen in my opinion.

Right well I had better dash off - I've just had daddy plump up my
favourite pillow for my late morning nap.

Love and Kisses,



From Billy Bongo:

When it comes to wearing any item of clothing you just have to do it
with confidence.... For example when i trot to the shops with Mr and
Mrs. Smith, I sometimes notice that people are laughing at me
especially when I'm wearing my best pirate jumper with the skull and
cross bones on the back . Now at first I thought they were laughing
AT ME... but then I realised it's nervous laughter. Other dog's get
nervous in my (stylish and so fashion forward) presence. It's their
problem and not mine... Anyway if they started anything I could sort
it out.... I might look like a tiny ball of fluff with sticky out
ears and googly eyes, but inside I am a LION....

And from Lucy Locket the Yorkie/ Dog version of Barbara Cartland:

Snore? How very dare you?! I wouldn't dream of doing such a thi-

Lucy Locket - The Yorkie
Billy Bongo - The Tiny Chihuahua
Bella Boo - The big Chihuahua

Mouse loves these books because they are mostly black, white and red – which is good because she is mostly black and white and she only reads black and red fiction so this was right up her street.
These are short and supremely titillating stories featuring Claude (in his ultra sophisticated beret) and his side kick a small sock called Sir Bobblysock – well such larks ensue as they head out on their daily adventures. Claude in the City finds our hapless hero foiling a robbery at a museum and taking Sir Bobblysock to hospital.

Claude in the City

If you can possible wait until June the Zoot Alorez you will be treated to Claude On Holiday, a work of comedy genius and had me rolling in the isles and laughing so much I almost has an unfortunate accident!
Claude sets off on an impromptu mini break with SB, after mastering a word or two of French (just the essentials mind) and coming a close second in a sandcastle competition Claude and SB encounter some dubious characters in the form of a rough around the edges family of pirates. Needless to say there are treasure maps, cannons, pirate ships and mean old ladies involved – NOT ONE TO BE MISSED!
Claude on Holiday - coming SOON! (but not soon enough!)

Here's one of my fave spreads!

If you are tempted by these tasty bookish treats and want to make a new friend check out Claude’s Facebook page – I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to see you!

Images © Alex t Smith – With Thanks to Hodder Children’s Books

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