I’m a big fan of Tomi Ungerer, a talented artist who has written and illustrated numerous picture books, many of which I read as a child and now collect as an adult. For some reason, I never knew he created a picture book featuring a pug as its hero. I immediately ordered a copy.
Flix , published in 1998, starts with a loving cat couple expecting their first offspring. When the baby is born, both parents are surprised to discover he’s a dog, and more specifically than that, a pug! Mom and Dad recover from the shock, take their newborn home to Cattown, love him, and raise him as a cat. (Is this why Ungerer chose a pug? The breed is often mentioned as being catlike.)
Cats and dogs rarely mingle in Cattown so poor Flix grows up with no friends to play with, teased by the other cats for his doggy ways. One day, though, he rescues a cat from drowning and is proclaimed a hero, earning the respect of the cats. Later, he saves a poodle in distress and marries her, bringing her home to live in Cattown. The two are thrilled when they become parents–to a beautiful, bouncing kitten.
Like many of Ungerer’s books, this story bout canine and feline race relations is definitely quirky (which is why I love his work). The illustrations are also wonderful, teeming with action and amusing details, such as a statue of a Saint Bernard in the church where the dogs marry and a rat-crossing sign in Cattown which orders drivers to speed up. If you collect picture books about pugs, as I do, this is one you won’t want to miss.