In the fall of 2003, I got a puppy, and we spent the autumn getting to know each other. On Halloween, less than a week after she arrived, I imposed a tiny princess costume on her. We crunched through the leaves together whenever I took her out into the yard. We shivered together when all the power in the neighborhood went out and we were left with no heat. And come Thanksgiving and Christmas, all our guests admired our pretty, if slightly hyper, puppy.
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Henry and Mudge Under the Yellow Moon is the fourth book in the series of easy readers by Cynthia Rylant, author of the Poppleton and Mr. Putter and Tabby books, and illustrated by Sucie Stevenson, and as such it is the second-earliest volume I have read. The third book makes no mention of the fact that Mudge is a recent addition to the family, and the other books I've read led me to the conclusion that Mudge has probably been a part of this family since before Henry was born.
Only with this book did I discover that this was not the case. There are several reference throughout the book to Mudge's novelty: "But this year Henry had Mudge. Mudge would be with him. Henry would not be afraid of the ghost stories." "Aunt Sally had not yet seen Henry's dog Mudge. I bet she hates dogs, Henry thought." I really need to read the first installment in the series so I understand the circumstances around Mudge's adoption. I'm guessing he was adopted as an adult at the shelter, and it was probably early in the year, since the third book takes place in summer. This book is around 45 pages long, and it consists of three different but related stories.
Together in the Fall is the shortest, talking about all the things Henry and his great big dog Mudge love to do together this time of year. "Since one was a boy and the other was a dog, they never did things just the same way," Rylant writes, and Stevenson illustrates those differences entertainingly, particularly in the picture in which the wind turns Henry's ears (and cheeks) red and Mudge's ears inside-out.
Under the Yellow Moon is a Halloween story, and Stevenson provides a lot of fun background on this one. Henry's mom just loves this holiday, so she gets the house all decked out with pumpkins, paper bats and candles. Henry helps, and he wears his tiger costume happily. But he's not looking forward to his mother's ghost stories. The boy is a wimp. How will he ever get through it?
Thanksgiving Guest introduces us to a new character, Aunt Sally, who bursts energetically through the door in her big green coat, striped scarf and fuzzy hat. Henry doesn't like her; she talks too much and stays too long, and he's almost sure she won't like Mudge. But is he right?
Henry and Mudge Under the Yellow Moon is a fun collection of stories about the fall and about adjusting to life with a big drooly dog. Things are bound to be different... but better!
Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat
Henry and Mudge and the Big Test
Henry and Mudge and the Wild Wind
Henry and Mudge in the Family Trees