40 Forever: Dog Spelled Backwards


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dog spelled backwards

Dahl, Roald, and Quentin Blake. The Vicar of
. London: Century, 1991.

The new vicar in town has a rare case of verbal dyslexia that makes him say words backwards without realizing it. Congregants don’t know what to think when he announces that they are not to “krap in front of the church.” He talks about “DOG” a lot, too. Dahl wrote this book to benefit the Dyslexia Institute in London (now Dyslexia Action).
Thomas, Rob. Rats
Saw God
. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young
Readers, 1996.

It’s been about 14 years since I read this very original coming of age story, so it’s probably a bit dated by now. What I remember most is that the main character smokes a lot of pot and he is part of his high school’s Dadaist
group, GOD . If you read the title of the book backwards, it spells “dog was star” which is a reference to the dog star constellation, Sirius. This is especially clever because the protagonist is the son of a famous astronaut.

Tolle, Eckhart, and Patrick McDonnell. Guardians
of Being
. Novato, Calif: New World Library, 2009.

According to spiritual writer Eckhart Tolle, dogs are “Guardians of Being” because they remind us to live in the moment. What is special about this self-help picture book is that it actually makes you feel calmer as you are reading it. The ecru pages, sparse text, and even the type design have a very relaxing effect on the eyes. The illustrations by Patrick McDonnell (the creator of the comic strip MUTTS) are a mixture of comic strip art and Japanese woodblock printing. One of my favorite illustrations is of a man looking up at the evening sky and noting that the brightest star, Sirius the Dog Star, is always there to show us the way home.

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