Biscuits in the Cupboard


32 pages
ISBN 0-7737-3025-7
DDC jC811'.54




Illustrations by Philippe Béha
Reviewed by Steve Pitt

Steve Pitt is a Toronto-based freelance writer and an award-winning journalist. He has written many young adult and children's books, including Day of the Flying Fox: The True Story of World War II Pilot Charley Fox.


“Cracks and Candles, Tears and Groans. / Do you hear him? Chicken
Bones. / There is an old and chilling tale, a story dog will tell, /
Long after dark on summer nights to weave an eerie spell. / And what,
you ask, can be the tale that keeps them up so late? / It is the
dreadful story of a bad dog’s awful fate. / A foul and filthy beast he
was, a mean and mangey cur, / With glinting eyes and foaming jaws and a
greasy, reeking fur.”

This is an extract from the longest poem in this collection of dog
verse by award-winning humorist Barbara Nichol. Some of the poems are
just rhyming couplets like “Bat above me in the dark, I can’t fly
but you can’t bark,” while others are full-length multistanza
ballads, such as “The Legend of Chicken Bones.” In much the same
tradition as T.S. Eliot’s book of droll cat verse, Nichol creates a
world of astounding canine characters who are at once both instantly
recognizable and yet completely unique.

Like Eliot, Nichol is also writing for both children and adult readers.
Much of the humor is a tad dark, more appropriate to a person in touch
with his or her own mortality than a youngster who just likes to hear
Flannery O’Connor rhyme with goner. But Nichol’s light touch,
matched with Philippe Béha’s lively illustrations, make this an ideal
book for an intergenerational read along. Highly recommended.


Nichol, Barbara., “Biscuits in the Cupboard,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,