Robyn Osborne (text), and John Phillips (illustrator), Bruno: The Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush. Big Sky Publishing, August 2018, 32 pp., RRP $14.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781925675504
Bob and his blue-heeler dog Bruno are best friends. They live a simple country life in a rather ramshackle house, happy to eat sausages and baked beans. However, when Bob wins a large amount of money they move to the city, buy a new house and car and dine on much fancier food than they have been used to. Unfortunately for Bruno, Bob makes new friends and Bruno feels lonely and abandoned. It is only when he tries to run away that Bob realises the mistake he’s made and they return to their old life in the country. There is a lesson here about the value of enduring friendship, of being content with what you have and of ‘home is where the heart is’.
The publicity for this book suggests it is a way to educate children about Australian slang which is fast disappearing. This is an admirable objective. The text is quite rollicking and would work as a read-aloud. However, I do think the repeated alliteration (of words beginning with the letter B) becomes a bit contrived and a little tedious.
The illustrations help to reinforce the idea that Bob is still a ‘bushie’ at heart as he remains unshaven and continues to wear his battered old country hat, despite changing the rest of his clothes (shorts and singlet) for a shirt and suit. Prior to the move to the city, the two friends travel around Australia seeing various sites and children can follow their path on a slightly oddly-shaped map of Australia (although even here, the only places marked are those beginning with B).
Children will warm to Bruno and sympathise with his exile which, fortunately, is short-lived.
Reviewed by Margot Hillel