Patrick McDonnell. The Mutts Diaries. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2014. 222 pages. ISBN 9781449458706.
I've always been a big fan of newspaper comic strips, and Mutts is absolutely one of my favorites. Patrick McDonnell has been a frequent visitor to the BEA convention, and I was lucky enough to get an uncorrected proof of The Mutts Diaries. This book is geared towards middle-grade readers, and I found it charming and funny. It focuses on all of the recurring characters in the comic strip, with separate sections dedicated to Mooch (the cat), Earl (the dog), Sour Puss (a cat, obviously), Chickpea and Chickpea's brother (kitten twins), Crabby (the crab), Guard Dog, Bip and Bop (two squirrels), and Shtinky (a cat). Most of the drawings are in black and white, but every few pages there's a panel in color. McDonnell returns many times to the theme of animal cruelty and neglect (for example, through the sad treatment of Guard Dog who's tied outside all the time and very lonely), and the plight of unwanted animals, such as Chickpea and Chickpea's brother, who are hoping to be adopted.
This is an excellent book for anyone who enjoys comic strips, and has the added benefit of encouraging a thoughtful approach to the humane treatment of animals.