Rosanne Hawke (text), Briony Stewart (illus.), Jehan and the Quest of the Lost Dog, University of Queensland Press, Sept 2017, 184pp., $14.95 (pbk), ISBN: 9780702259609
Rosanne Hawke returns to Pakistan in this companion novel to her previous book, Kelsey and the Quest of the Porcelain Doll.
This time, we meet Jehan and his brother, Amir, who live with their parents on the banks of the Indus River. Life is as it should be, with chores and school and cricket, although Jehan wishes he had a sister to help with the chores.
Then the early Monsoon rains sweep away Jehan’s home and belongings, separating him from his family. Jehan climbs a tree and spends weeks clinging to the branches as the floodwaters swirl beneath him.
Using his wits, he fends for himself and manages to find enough food to survive. Hope comes in the form of Lali, a dog also separated from her family (two newborn pups and her owner, Beti). The two form a special bond as they strive to find their families and dry land.
This stunning book of friendship, hope and survival was inspired by a newspaper photograph of a boy in a tree, during the devastating floods of 2010.
The strong narrative, told in alternating chapters from the endearing characters Jehan and Lali, draws the reader in and offers a starting point to explore other cultures and the plight of people caught in natural disasters around the world.
Reviewed by Penny Harrison