Review: Jim the Wonder Dog

Jim the Wonder Dog
Jim the Wonder Dog by Clarence Dewey Mitchell
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Book #15 for 2015
PopSugar Challenge Criteria Met:
-A book at the bottom of your to-read list
-A book with bad reviews
-A book from your childhood
-A book that takes place in your hometown

Having grown up in Saline County, Missouri, I’m glad I finally finished this book. I’ve visited Jim’s grave. I’ve geocached in his park. I’ve heard many of the stories handed down over the years. I even tried watching the video that was put out about 15 years ago. (Don’t. It’s…just don’t.) But the pseudo-memoir narrative of this book put me off reading it since pretty much forever, and I’m grateful to the PopSugar reading challenge for forcing me to get through it once and for all.

It wasn’t as bad as the video, I will give it that. It was even kind of interesting once I made a certain kind of uneasy peace with the first-person (Jim’s) POV. But it is still horribly, horribly dated and lacking in finesse, and the messages it sends about how animals and people should be treated are terrible. I’m talking spluttering outrage terrible.

As for Jim’s “powers,” well, I like to keep an open mind, but Mitchell clearly had an agenda here and was admittedly selective in what “evidence” he presented. This book made me wish for a more balanced look at what made Jim such an enduring phenomenon and what the experts or scientific community really thought at the time. I’ve no doubt Jim was a very special dog, but I’d like to know more real things about him. Alas, that ship has probably sailed now that nearly a century has passed.

How on earth to rate this book? If I’m being honest with myself, any praise I’d give it is more out of a sense of nostalgia than anything. And I cannot in good conscience support so much of what Mitchell put forth (as Jim!) in this book. I have to give it just the 1 star. That said, I would hesitantly recommend this to somebody both a) interested in the legend of Jim, specifically, and b) with good, solid critical thinking skills.

View all my reviews

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