April 03, 1978 12:00 PM

by Richard Adams

After a beginning his characters might describe as “ruff, ruff,” Adams (Watership Down, Shardik, the recent The Ship’s Cat for children) gives us another remarkable anthropomorphic animal novel. Domestic canines Rowf and Snifter escape from a macabre animal research center where they have been victims of horrifying experiments and some tedious moralizing by the author. Then they begin roaming the English countryside in search of a haven, helped by a cunning fox who teaches them about survival in the wilds. Though his humans are often stereotyped (the research center’s Dr. Boycott is your standard evil scientist, Digby Driver the typical sensationalist newsman), Adams’ salvation is his vivid descriptions of the English Lake District, and his ability to give personalities to the pooches. Those who have smart pets trained to fetch reading matter are advised that once Rover picks this book up, he may have a hard time putting it down. (Knopf, $10.95)

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