Merci Mister Dash! by Monica Kulling and Mister Dash and the Cupcake Calamity by Monica Kulling – Reviews by Susan Hughes
Merci Mister Dash! (Tundra, 2011) is a rollicking picture book story that hooks us right from the first page. Mister Dash, a rather fastidious pooch who wears a vest and eats his popcorn one kernel at a time, does not look forward to Sundays. That’s when Daphne, an extraordinarily loud and active young girl, takes over the house, spending the day with her grandmother, gift-shop owner Madam Croissant, but also requiring Mister Dash to be her playmate. Too well-mannered to refuse, Mister Dash endures, bow tie in place, until one Sunday, more is required. And of course the gallant Mister Dash steps up, racing to the rescue to save Daphne from danger.
In Mister Dash and the Cupcake Calamity (Tundra, 2013) Mister Dash, alas, is required to help out when Madam Croissant’s 500 cupcakes, freshly baked with the messy but enthusiastic “assistance” of Daphne, are in danger of not reaching their destination intact.
Where did the idea for this sequel to Merci Mister Dash! come from? Monica Kulling told me: “It was a challenge to write a second book, but I knew I wanted to do it and that I wanted to set the story in Madame Croissant’s kitchen because I loved Esperança Melo’s illustration of the yellow and blue tiled floor in Merci Mister Dash. I also knew that Madame Croissant would have to change careers, from owning a gift shop to owning a bakery on wheels so that the story had a reason to take place in the kitchen.”
Young readers will enjoy each of the three main character’s bigger-than-life personalities — and teachers may challenge students to think about which one they connect with most. As Monica explains: “Both books are ensemble pieces, to borrow a phrase from the movies. The three characters are equal in their importance and all are naturally aspects of moi. I am Mister Dash when I’m trying to be helpful and create order out of chaos. I am Daphne when I’m exuberant and creating the chaos. And I am Madame Croissant, a woman of a certain age, trying to have as much fun as she can while she can. Switching careers? Mme. C. is très adaptable. She does it on a dime!”
Susan Hughes is the award-winning author of over 25 children’s books, both fiction and non-fiction, including OFF TO CLASS: INCREDIBLE AND UNUSUAL SCHOOLS AROUND THE WORLD (Owl Kids, 2011) and THE ISLAND HORSE (Kids Can, 2012). Her chapter book THE FOUR SEASONS OF PATRICK will be published by Red Deer this autumn, as will the first two books in her new series for Scholastic, THE PUPPY COLLECTION.
Susan also has a passion for assisting other writers in reaching their potential by offering manuscript evaluations, editing services, and coaching. She is a voracious reader of books for children and adult — and yet finds time to hang out with her partner and three children. You can find her online at www.susanhughes.ca and on Twitter as @childbkauthor.