I've admired Maira Kalman's work when I have seen it, but haven't owned any of her books until this Christmas when I found this among my presents. Kalman's sensitivity towards her subjects was always evident and it's right that a volume should concentrate on her dogs, now needy, now loving, sometimes furious, often content. The original content which frames the book demonstrates relationship with dogs interwoven with her family background - which treated dogs with suspicion - and her marriage to Tibor Kalman, whose terminal illness led to her acquiring her 'beloved dog' Pete. I wasn't familiar with her series of children's books about the dog poet Max Stravinsky, but now know something of his flight to Paris to be a poet and his subsequent adventures among mondes belle and demi-. as well as many of the other dogs Kalman has depicted, curious, furious, studious or just stupidly happy in an endearing canine way. Pete's connection with death is never far away - prose accompanying the last painting of Pete compares her longing to hear a word from him to 'asking to hear one word from a loved one who has died' - but Kalman's art celebrates life in all its diversity, with dogs enjoying their own careers as well as offering mirrors to human souls.
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