Dog about town, Marcel, loves his New York City life. He is totally smitten with his doting ‘human’ and vice versa. So when a newcomer muscles in on the cosy twosome to create a tricky ménage à trois, Marcel’s life as a pampered pooch is in peril.
Don’t you just hate it when something unexpected turns your life upside when you least expect it? That’s exactly how Marcel feels. One minute, his life is all happy-tickety-boo; the next, an interloper seems intent on getting between him and his beloved ‘human.’
So what’s a dog to do? Well, his snout may be well and truly put out of joint, but this dog is not going to take the change of situation lying down…Instead, Marcel has some cheeky strategies up his sleeve, which involve a defiant pee in someone’s shoes, and an early morning wake-up call. But still the newcomer seems intent on sticking around.
Set against a wonderfully chic Manhattan backdrop of hip musicians and natty dressers, author Eda Akaltun uses an artistic mix of photography, decoupage and collage to give this comical dilemma a cool modern aesthetic. Its NYC location gives snapshots of some of the fun activities the city has to offer, from strolls in Central Park to ambling among the dinosaur relics in the American Museum of Natural History, while Marcel’s character explores a gamut of emotions from happiness to anger and despair, before reaching a new acceptance of his hitherto unwelcome situation.
So how did Akaltun choose a Frenchie as her pooch protagonist? Again, New York provided the inspiration. “A lot of people have dogs in Manhattan and in the West Village French bulldogs seem to be the puppy of choice,” she says.
The characterful ‘Frenchies’ were perfect for her plot. “They always look like they have so much on their minds, as well as being very humorous,” adds Akaltun. And Marcel delightfully expresses a range of emotions with comic effect.
Although canine in character, Marcel’s feelings of jealousy will chime with young readers. Toddlers with a new sibling or changing family dynamics will easily identify with this doggy’s disgruntled annoyance and sense of injustice, and the sense of wishing that things would just go
back to the way they were
Beautifully illustrated and playful in tone, the book also touches on some powerful emotions. “I wanted to develop a very particular character for Marcel, who is the type of doggie who needs everything to be just so!” explains Akaltun. “Marcel loves his human very much, is very resistant to change of any kind and is perfectly happy with everything just the way it is. When his beloved owner becomes someone else’s beloved, he is forced outside of his comfort zone and thrust into unfamiliar circumstances. He becomes confused, angry, and misses the good old days.”
Thankfully, this doggy tale has a happy resolution as Marcel comes to realise that change can be also bring unexpected pleasures as he realises that having two special ‘humans’ to his name actually brings twice the fun and double the love!
“I wanted to give children a sense that whilst change is at first difficult, it can also be enormously rewarding. Whether it is a new sibling, or a new parent or guardian, accepting new people into our lives allows us to see things in a new light and opens our eyes to new relationships and possibilities.”
And we think Marcel would agree.
Fun fact French Bulldogs, or ‘Frenchies’ as they’re affectionately dubbed, are friendly dogs that were bred to be companions. Although they’re somewhat slow to be housebroken (a trait that Marcel seems to enjoy!), they get along well with other dogs and aren’t big barkers. However, they do like to “talk” using a complex system of yawns, yaps, and gargles.
Did you know? Frenchies are a big hit with celebrities. Hilary Duff, Lady Gaga, and Leonardo DiCaprio are proud owners of Frenchies. Hugh Jackman’s pet pooch is named Dali, after the way his dog’s mouth curls like the famous artist’s moustache.
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Author details Eda Akaltun is a New York based illustrator from Istanbul. She uses traditional printmaking techniques, photography, drawing and paper ephemera to create detailed and layered collage works.