Barry Jonsberg (text), Tom Jellett (illus.), A Dog’s Tale (Mates : Great Australian Yarns), Scholastic Australia, 1 July 2017, 64pp., $12.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781742991399
How many boys long for a dog of their own?
This lively, illustrated, 53 page addition to the Mates series by Scholastic charts Michael’s campaign to get a puppy for Christmas.
This is no syrupy tale of a wish granted—Michael works hard to convince them, but his parents hold firm. A range of quirky methods including Fido, a toy dog glued to a skateboard, are employed by the unrelenting protagonist as he battles for success.
Jessica, his baby sister, provides Michael with an opportunity to show his ability to cope with a carer role and adds an element of toilet humour.
The lively text is coloured by Australian expressions (snowflake’s chance in hell) and the illustrations have an angular quality reminiscent of 1950s TV cartoons. Both the style and the content of this junior novel is well targeted to appeal to boys reading independently.
A bittersweet ending offers Michael both responsibility and hope for the future.
Reviewed by Julie Thorndyke