Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Dog, by Andy Mulligan

Staff review by Chris Saliba

A sweet and sensitive story about a boy and a dog both experiencing personal troubles.

Eleven-year-old Tom is having a hard time of it. He is being bullied at school, his parents have broken up and he’s not talking to his mother. His father has reluctantly promised him a dog as a pet. When the dog finally arrives he is named Spider, because of his long, spindly legs.

Spider the dog is having a rough time himself. He was the last of the litter to be chosen. His looks aren’t the best, with his front protruding tooth. A spider named Thread has also made his first few days on earth upsetting. While anxiously waiting for someone to choose him as a pet, Thread the spider descended and told Spider that no one wanted him, that he was too much trouble. Spider doesn’t want to believe this, but his confidence is shaken. Is it really true that no one wants him? Luckily Spider is eventually chosen and gets to live with his new owner.

Tom and Spider become best friends immediately. They sleep in the same room, even though Tom’s dad has forbidden it. A spanner is thrown in the works when Spider realises that Thread, the menacing spider, has secretly followed him to his new home, setting up house in Tom’s room. He continues to bother Spider, undermining his confidence. This leads indirectly to Spider causing all sorts of terrible accidents, getting Tom deeper and deeper into trouble. When Spider realises all the trouble he’s causing, he runs away.

Andy Mulligan’s DOG is both plaintive and funny, with a cast of brilliant animal characters. There’s Moonlight the precious and vain cat, Hilda the goofy fish, Jesse the fox, Buster the tough but noble pit bull and Flea, a very helpful flea. The story mixes elements of R. J. Palacio’s Wonder in its sympathetic portrayal of a boy’s inner life with the innovation of Piers Torday’s The Last Wild trilogy. Andy Mulligan’s writing has a wonderful lightness and pace, while his dialogue has the natural tone of everyday speech.

A story with a sensitive emotional core that is sure to appeal to readers 9 years and up.

DOG, by Andy Mulligan. Published by Pushkin Children's. ISBN: 9781782691716  RRP: $19.99

Release date 18th December

To sign up for our monthly newsletter, featuring new releases, book reviews and favourite articles from around the web, click here.