Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School, is a wonderful picture book written and illustrated by Mark Teague. The book follows the story of Ike LaRue, a mischievous dog who is sent away to obedience school by his owner, Mrs. LaRue. While at obedience school, he sends letters to Mrs.LaRue describing the terrible conditions at obedience school. He describes it as “prison,” with mean guards, mean dogs, and no fun. Ike eventually runs away, and by the end of the book makes it back home to Mrs. LaRue.
The thing that makes this book so hilarious is the illustrations. Teague divides each spread of pages into two halves, Ike’s imagination, and Ike’s reality. On one page, we see Ike’s letter to Mrs. Laue describing how horrible obedience school is, with a giant thought bubble containing black and white images that reflect Ike’s misery. On the opposite page, we see obedience school as Ike is actually experiencing it, which is essentially a vacation resort. Ike has actually been spending his days sitting by the pool and eating treats, but spins a tale of woe Mrs. LaRue because he misses her and wants to come home. Ike’s letters are one giant guilt trip to let him get out of school early.
Kids will LOVE this book! I remember reading it for this first time in elementary school, and it’s continued to be one of my favorites. The text and illustration combination is hilarious. Whether you’re reading it for your classroom or at home, this one is a definite crowd pleaser!