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I think I made this one too easy.

madgeA mostly-forgotten book I love presented itself to my imagination twice yesterday. Can you guess what it is?

Clue # 1 and #2: I was talking to Holiday House’s Mary Cash while she was with my buddy Elizabeth Law on Fire Island, and she mentioned her plan to go “swimming in the ocean” later in the day.

Clue #3: I was out for a run after work and crossed paths with a handsome but rather rigid-looking young man accompanied by a pair of beautifully trained young keeshonds.

Clue #4: You’re soaking in it!

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. I know the answer and won’t spoil for others, but what the hell does Palmolive have to do with that book?

  2. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    That’s the easiest clue of all!

  3. I’m hoping that at some point you’re going to surrender the answer to this riddle. I have a nagging feeling that I ought to know the answer, but that the book is something I read almost forty years ago.
    Is it YA? A troubled teenage boy? I’ve googled keeshonds, to no avail.. Please put me out of my misery!

  4. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    Sorry! It’s GENTLEHANDS by M.E. Kerr. About a boy named BUDDY whose rich girlfriend, the butler informs him, is SWIMMING IN THE OCEAN despite her family’s luxurious pool. Buddy’s HANDSOME BUT RIGID grandfather has two (?) beautiful KEESHOND dogs; unfortunately, so did GENTLEHANDS, the nickname given by the prisoners in a Nazi death camp to a guard who enjoyed playing Puccini’s “O Dolce Mani” while he set his dogs upon them. Are Buddy’s grandfather and Gentlehands the same person? You’ll have to read Gentlehands to find out. (Channeling Amazon reviews “by a kid” there.)

  5. I just ordered this book to read on my kindle. While the plot description, the reputation of the author, and professional reviews influenced my decision to buy, I was mostly influenced by curiosity. The Amazon ratings range from 5 to 1 and the comments range from outstanding to horrible. I can’t wait to find out how I feel about the book. Also, growing up, my family owned keeshonden! I actually spent one August during my 15th summer babysitting the three children of a wealthy family at a rented beach cottage. When my family came to pick me up on the last day of that month, we drove directly to a kennel where I traded my total month’s salary of $50.00 for a six week old Keeshond puppy.! Obviously this happened a long time ago. I wonder how much 31 days of 24 hour babysitting would be worth today?

    I can’t wait to read Gentlehands! This is the first fiction book I know of that mentions keeshonden. The breed is not well known. Now I’m wondering about M.E. Kerr’s connection to these dogs?

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