Why is Mr. Dog so gosh-durn charming? It’s a question we’ve been gnawing on for years now. We’ve decided it must have something to do with his sly, dashing personality. In that regard he has a number of legendary ancestors, and quite a rich lineage of descendants. From Reynard the Fox, whose fables entertained for generations during the early middle ages, to Tom Sawyer; to the Cheshire Cat; the loveable rogue is an enduring archetype found in great stories since time immemorial. Here for your nostalgic pleasure are seven excellent loveable rogues you may recall from childhood.
Remember The Wind in the Willows, with Toad and Mole and Badger? Their friend Ratty was actually not a rat, but a water vole, and he was obsessed with the river. Nothing made him happier than being out on the water, and if the other animals suggested another activity he could get very stubborn.
Ernest H. Shepard, © 1959
“I beg your pardon... but did I overhear you say something about ‘WE,’ and ‘START,’ and ‘THIS AFTERNOON?’”
Kids today know Roald Dahl’s classic trickster character from the Wes Anderson movie, where he’s voiced by George Clooney. But Fantastic Mr. Fox was first a book, in which Mr. Fox employs every ounce of imagination he has to feed his wife and children while three mean-hearted farmers named Boggis, Bunce, and Bean do their best to shoot him and destroy his home.
Donald Chaffin © 1970
“This delicious meal…,” he began, then he stopped. In the silence that followed, he let fly a tremendous belch. There was more laughter and more clapping. “This delicious meal, my friends,” he went on, “is by courtesy of Messrs. Boggis, Bunce and Bean.”
Jinx the cat is from Walter Brooks’ wonderful series of books following the adventures of Freddy the Pig, a sincere and kind-hearted pig who often finds himself called upon to solve mysteries. Jinx is just the opposite. Quite like a real cat, he’s aloof and sarcastic. He rarely bothers with anything at all, unless he’s making a snide comment from the periphery.
Kurt Wiese © 1939
“‘To the eye of the trained detective nothing is ever just what it seems to be.’
‘What does that make you, then?’ said the cat."
OLIVIA THE PIG
Olivia is a very independent, gutsy young pig, dreamt up by the illustrator Ian Falconer, who is otherwise best known for his work on the cover of The New Yorker. Whether she is singing from her songbook, “Forty Very Loud Songs,” trying to recreate a Jackson Pollock on her bedroom wall, or playing with the family’s pet cat, she always does it with gusto and unselfconscious enthusiasm.
Ian Falconer © 2003
“Olivia waited, and waited, and waited, till she was too exhausted to wait any longer. So she went out to play with the cat.”
THE CAT IN THE HAT
Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, conceived the Cat in the Hat when his publisher commissioned a more entertaining alternative to the Dick and Jane books then popular as primers for early readers. Together with his companions, Thing 1 and Thing 2, the Cat in the Hat shows up at Sally and her brother’s house while their mother is away. Over the objections of the family fish, the trio proceed to entertain the children, incidentally wrecking much of the house.
Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) © 1957
“Have no fear,” said the cat. “I will not let you fall. I will hold you up high as I stand on a ball.”
Anatole is the brainchild of Eve Titus, brought to life in illustration by Paul Galdone. He is a very proud French mouse who overhears a nasty comment deriding his species, and decides he must do something to better his reputation. So every night he sneaks into the Duval Cheese Factory and samples all the cheeses, leaving little tasting notes and telling them how to better run their business.
Paul Galdone © 1956.
“Voila! Now the Duval Factory will learn a thing or two. Mice are known everywhere as the World’s Best Judges of Cheese! And as for myself, I shall bring some home proudly, for I have honorably earned it!”
Mr. Dog is the main character in Albert Bigelow Paine’s extraordinary stories about the animal people who live at the Hollow Tree Inn. Sometimes it seems like he might see the other animals as just tasty snacks—whenever he sees Mr. Squirrel, for example, he can’t resist instilling a little terror in his heart. But by the last story, Mr. Dog’s Christmas at the Hollow Tree Inn, Mr. Dog and the other animals are all fast friends.
Adam McCauley © 2014
"Then he borrowed a big sack and fixed it up to swing over his back, just as he had seen Santa Claus do in the pictures. He had a lot of nice things to take along. Three tender young chickens he'd borrowed from Mr. Man, for one thing…”
That’s all, folks! Did we miss your favorite loveable rogue? Tell us about it in the comments.