Friday, March 25, 2011

Children's Book Review, Dog Gone


Children's Book Review written by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com


I discovered Dog Gone recently, a children's chapter book by Carole Poustie, published by Avant Press, and I'm so pleased I did. From the start, Dog Gone speaks to us in the strong, vibrant voice of its main character, Ish.
Ish’s dog is gone. Vanished in a country town. Mum’s on holiday, Dad’s in Sydney. Ish and his bossy sister Molly are staying with Gran. There are no clues. Only something mysterious in the town’s graveyard. Then a bully from the local school starts to blackmail Ish. Can things get any worse?
All of us, kids included, have times in our lives when things seem disastrous. It's great to read books that show how characters cope with disaster, and draw on our own resilience even as we empathise with theirs. Ish is a hero kids will relate to. He's crazy about fishing and his dog, and is devastated to learn that his beloved Grandpa has just died of a heart attack. Ish's problems and dilemmas are believable and pull us firmly into his story.

Dog Gone is fast-paced, with great characters. The language is evocative but simple enough for junior primary readers to understand. Ish notices things that kids would notice -" My foggy breath seemed to lead the way as my ice-block feet trudged along behind." "I couldn't sleep. My brain kept re-running everything on a TV screen attached to the inside of my eyelids." "Some people are mind readers, but Gran is a heart reader. She can tell a well-hidden feeling a mile off."

Grandpa gifted Ish with his own love of poetry, among other things. Ish's poems are dotted throughout the book, sometimes highlighting the action, sometimes providing insight into Ish's background and character, but always giving the reader a time to reflect. I love to think that kids will be inspired by Ish's example to keep their own poetry journal.
Mum and Dad are in the kitchen
shouting
I'm under the pear tree
I don't want to hear the words
neither does Lucky
he's got his head on my knee
his ears down
Dog Gone is a great read for children 8+ who want adventure, drama, a hint of spooky and a generous dollop of humour in their books. It would make an excellent resource for classrooms and libraries too. For your own autographed copy, visit this Australian author's website.

Find more Children's Book Reviews on The Book Chook via the Table of Contents.
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