I spotted this terrific looking book while browsing book covers at a local big box bookstore.
It turns out the book is a Canadian classic, one I’d never read, or even heard of, but one which I probably should have. The illustrator, Scott Plumbe, writes of it on his blog saying:
“[Beautiful Joe was written] in the 1890s by Canadian author Margaret Marshall Saunders [it was] inspired by a real life dog who had been cruelly maltreated by his owner and was later taken in by the kindly Morris family.”
What makes the novel rather different, and thus all the more interesting, is that it’s told from the perspective of the main character (a dog). Hoping that somebody had recorded it, I did a search and found a single voiced narration of Beautiful Joe over on LibriVox!
The vintage introduction makes it sound as if Beautiful Joe is a religious novel, but the actual text is fairly secular (at least so far). This seems to be a book designed with a message in mind, that cruelty to animals is wrong, worthy of banning.
By Marshall Saunders; Read by Allyson Hester
2 M4Bs (1,2), 19 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 10 Hours 2 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: June 6, 2008
Beautiful Joe is a real dog, and “Beautiful Joe” is his real name. He belonged during the first part of his life to a cruel master, who mutilated him in the manner described in the story. He was rescued from him, and is now living in a happy home with pleasant surroundings, and enjoys a wide local celebrity. The character of Laura is drawn from life, and to the smallest detail is truthfully depicted. The Morris family has its counterparts in real life, and nearly all of the incidents of the story are founded on fact.
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The Wikipedia entry for Beautiful Joe mentions that there is a park, in Meaford, Ontario, named after Beautiful Joe. When you do a search on YouTube for same you can only get this effable, and oddly unironic, tour:
Posted by Jesse Willis