Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda by Margaret Atwood: Review

So how do I explain this one? Bob's mom forgets about him outside her beauty parlour but luckily 3 dogs find him and raise him. Being raised by dogs makes him bashful. Meantime, Dorinda's parents have disappeared leaving her to be raised by distant relatives who neglect her. Dorinda gets fed up and leaves, whereupon she finds Bob. She teaches Bob to act like a person. Just as he's getting the hang of it, a mislabelled buffalo reeks havoc on the town. Bob and Dorinda face their fears and become heroes.

If you want to twist your tongue and expand your child's vocabulary, then Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda by Margaret Atwood is for you. I was exhausted after reading it outloud. I also had to explain many of the words to my girl. Not such a bad thing. But the alliteration tends to get a bit grating.

I've read some other reviewers who had problems with Bob's abandonment and Dorinda's parents' accident. I wasn't bothered by it. I mean, Hansel and Gretel's parents abandon them in the woods, and Peter Rabbit's dad gets put in a pie. Not all kids' stories are filled with rainbow farting unicorns. I wouldn't read this to very young children anyway- the language is too grand. Let's not forget, this is Atwood.

Anyway, my daughter likes it, especially the illustrations by Dusan Petricic, and that's all that matters.

Read for the 3rd Canadian Book Challenge


  1. The book is clearly geared to slightly older children so I don't see any problem with the disappearance of Dorlinda's parents and Bob's abandonment. Nothing everything is sunshine and roses and books like this are a good way of preparing kids for the world around them. They learn that not everything is fair, but to keep moving anyway because things will get better. :)

  2. Joana- Yeah, my daughter didn't bat an eye at it.

  3. I actually didn't know she had written children's books. Now I want them :P

  4. Of her children's books, I've only read the one about Purple Prunella or something like that. Speaking of annoying alliteration. I'm a fan of Atwood, and while the lady can do a lot, I'm thinking children's books may not be one of her skills.

  5. Nymeth- I didn't know about this particular one.

    John- I'm inclined to agree with you. It takes a certain touch to do it really well.

  6. Awesome review on this book, I will have to check it out. I am working on trying to get young adults reading and have a blog that tries to give suggestions of those types of things. If you have any suggestions, please visit me at