No Dogs Allowed!

by Sonia Manzano
ISBN: 0689830882

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A Review of: No Dogs Allowed
by Olga Stein

This book I loved. A team effort from Sonia Manzano (Maria of Sesame Street fame) and illustrator Jon J. Muth, it's all about family-in this instance an extended, close-knit Hispanic family, full of characters instantly recognizable and endearing. The plot is simple, but appealing. Iris's parents, sister, and dog, are to join other family members as well as friends on a trip to the State Park lake. The resulting cavalcade of people and cars is pure chaos, but Iris has no difficulty navigating this sea of family members. She has linked each person with a positive quality-like cousins "Marta the Smart", "Carmen the Beautiful", and "Aunt Tuta the Happily Married and her Brand-new Husband Juan"-as a means of orienting herself amid this multitude. She isn't stereotyping exactly-she, like every child, is imposing order on her personal universe. We understand that hers is a child's view of things, but it's a view we can easily adopt because her universe is comforting in its loving depiction of people, and its underlying stability. Iris may not be from a wealthy family, but she is in every way a healthy, happy child, made secure by observing and partaking in strong familial bonds.
After a couple of minor contretemps along the way, the group finally arrives at the lake only to discover that Iris's dog, El Exigente, isn't allowed on the beach. And what do you think happens then:

"So that day, in the parking lot of the Enchanted State Park, my dog had his fur done by Carmen; was read to by Marta; was fed by Don Joe; was baby-sat by my Aunt Tuta and her husband, Juan; played dominoes with the Wise Old People; had his paw read by my sister; and was hugged and kissed by me until...it was time to leave."

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