Sally Scudamore (text) and Lexie Watt (illustrator), Rusty Runs Away, Little Steps Books, February 2020, 32 pp., RRP $16.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781925839777
Based on the true story of Rusty, the Australian Terrier, who managed to hitch a ride from Goondiwindi in Queensland to Snowtown in South Australia, a journey of about 1500 km. The family sets off on their summer holidays without Rusty, who is left behind with Farmer Gruff. His second alternative is Grandma Jude. Neither has time for him, so Rusty sets off on his own adventure, becoming footsore and weary. He spies a prime mover cabin and climbs aboard. He and the driver get along and so begins their long journey together. At the end of their long trip, when Rusty is beginning to be homesick, they see a television advertisement from Rusty’s Queensland family, wanting him returned. Rusty is flown home and reunited with his family, who promise that next time they will take him with them.
The story is told through two voices, indicated by different fonts. The main voice is that of the narrator with asides from Rusty himself. It works seamlessly, though I am not a fan of anthropomorphic animals. Watts made good use of the white space on the page and captured the colours of the Australian landscape. Rusty is a character in his own right.
Readers aged 3 to 8 are sure to enjoy this story, especially those who love cute small dogs.
Reviewed by Maureen Mann