Known for his compilations of lists and letters, Shaun Usher highlights that most common of domesticated animals: dogs. Letters of Note: Dogs features correspondence from authors and artists, and it opens with E.B. White's reply to the ASPCA about "harboring" an unlicensed dog. With characteristic twinkle, he argues, "If by 'harboring' you mean getting up two or three times every night to pull Minnie's blanket up over her, I am harboring a dog all right." Moving between the hilarious and the serious, Usher's collection offers a variety of dog stories, including a memo from former president George H.W. Bush ordering White House staffers to stop giving treats to their springer spaniel as she was on a diet.
This mostly light and humorous collection also deals with grief, as in the condolence letter by Bob Hope to FDR's dog Fala after the president's death in 1945. Writing in the voice of fellow dog Fido, Hope describes the president's powerful influence: "...people had confidence in his plans because his integrity and sincerity were felt the world over. In other words, he made a lot of people see the light, or as we'd put it, he put them on the right scent." Also moving is the scathing letter from travel editor Richard Joseph, addressed to the unknown driver who struck and killed their dog before fleeing the scene. Though focused on the canine set, Letters of Note: Dogs would make an excellent gift for any animal lover. --Sara Beth West, freelance reviewer and librarian