Allen & Unwin, 2016
32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99
“I am Teddy. This is my scrap book. It’s about me growing up from a little, tiny puppy with a body head and big brown melty eyes to a big black Labrador weighing 40 kilos (since I have been on a diet). This is me, Teddy”.
Teddy rules the roost at the author’s house – in fact, Chris admits he comes a distant third after Teddy and his partner Jackie – and this is his story. From the time he devoured everything in sight, including one of Armin Greder’s Birkenstock sandals so he had to walkhop, walkhop all the way home to patiently waiting for Chris and Jackie to come home, Teddy tells his story in a style clearly inherited from his owners. While there is his own commentary in continuous text, each page has a feast of pictures, comments and captions in scrapbook style that bring Teddy’s life to light. And each read offers something new to discover. There is so much to find that it’s like a treasure hunt and young readers will delight in comparing Teddy’s ‘experiences’ to that of dogs that they might know. While I personally understand the taking over of the bed and the forlorn look whenever I leave, I can’t share the macadamia nuts in the park episode – funny as it is.
As with many of his other stories, Me, Teddy is a collaboration from all of McKimmie’s family including his children and grandchildren and uses a rich variety of media that stretches from the front cover to the last, including the endpapers and even the publication page. This adds so much interest and humour to the story and undoubtedly would encourage students to reflect on their own pet’s life and perhaps record it in a similar fashion. An introduction to writing an autobiography or a memoir perhaps, and certainly a heads-up to be more observant of those who fill our lives. The collaboration between family members in deciding what is included could also serve as a model as the children could imagine the conversations and how discussions could be settled through negotiation rather than confrontation.
Over the years, McKimmie had written a number of books, all of which are very distinctive and several of which have been shortlisted for the CBCA awards, but this one has to be my favourite so far. Perhaps it’s because I’m a “dog person” but I found it so joyful and uplifting and so very different from his previous title, Lara of Newtown In the meantime, I need to take my Ebony for a walk – she who clearly believes she is a chook just like the three she plays with every day. Now that would make for an interesting scrapbook page.