If Snoopy ever needed a soul mate, terrier Ike LaRue would fit the bill. Poor, misunderstood Ike: He has been banished for two months of behavior training at the Brotweiler Canine Academy, and he is miserable. But, like Snoopy, Ike is handy with a typewriter, and Dear Mrs. LaRue compiles his pleading letters home to his owner, Mrs. Gertrude R. LaRue, along with a few related newspaper articles that further relate his exploits.

Artist and writer Mark Teague's books always feature great humor, intriguing, unusual plots and witty, eye-catching illustrations. Not surprisingly, Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School serves up all the good things readers have grown to expect from the author.

Juxtaposing his letters home with scenes from what he actually experiences at the school, the book begins when Ike writes: Dear Mrs. LaRue, How could you do this to me? This is a PRISON, not a school! You should see the other dogs. They are BAD DOGS, Mrs. LaRue! I do not fit in." The spread shows Ike mailing his letter in a plush, flower-filled area, with signs pointing to the pool and sauna. Ike's imagination, however, features a Transylvania-like scene, complete with a winding road leading up to a foreboding castle, surrounded by bats, ravens and lightning.

Poor Ike. He can't understand why Mrs. LaRue was so miffed when he ate her chicken pie, chased cats and tore her camel coat. Were you really so upset about the chicken pie?" he writes to his mistress. You know, you might have discussed it with me. You could have said, ÔIke, don't eat the chicken pie. I'm saving it for dinner.' Would that have been so difficult? It would have prevented a lot of hard feelings." Kids will enjoy Ike's hilarious comments and adventures, while adults will snicker at the sophisticated humor. Not surprisingly, Ike plots a daring escape from his canine prison and braves a long journey home. He ends up a hero, with the entire town saluting his bravery and holding signs that say I Like Ike." Mark Teague has created a book full of canine capers, with superb details in every corner. Ike is so endearing, I wouldn't be surprised if he returns in a sequel.

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