Jess Black (text), Gabriel Evans (illus.), Welcome Home, Harley (Little Paws #1), Random House Australia, April 2017, 84 pp., $9.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9780143781776
Jess Black (text), Gabriel Evans (illus.), Meg’s Big Mystery (Little Paws #2), Random House Australia, April 2017, 80 pp., $9.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9780143781790
Jess Black (text), Gabriel Evans (illus.), Ringo’s Road Trip (Little Paws #3), Random House Australia, April 2017, 88 pp., $9.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9780143781813
Each book in the delightful Little Paws series tells the story of a puppy training to be a Guide Dog, and the families who take them into their homes to help teach the nuances of human behaviour. With large type and short chapters, plus a range of cute puppy graphics and adorable illustrations, the stories are perfect for read-alone early readers, or can be read by adults to younger children.
In the first book of the series, Welcome Home, Harley, Lexie Walker sees an ad in the local paper calling for Puppy Raisers for Guide Dogs Australia. Before she knows it, the family has a new member – eight-week-old golden Labrador, Harley. The story is rich in information about puppy training and the benefits Guide Dogs bring to the community. The Walkers soon learn they need to make some adjustments to their own busy lives to make sure Harley is properly cared for. Harley’s passion for chewing leads to mess and destruction, and the family wonders if they’ve taken on more than they can handle.
In Meg’s Big Mystery, the second book in the Little Paws series, training of four-month-old Meg is going well until she becomes sick, and must stay in the veterinary hospital until her illness is diagnosed. Meg’s young trainer, Lachie, decides to apply his school research assignment to the task of solving the mystery. With the help of his best mate, Lachie puts his best detective skills to the test, backtracking Meg’s weekend activities. If the professionals are stumped, what are the chances Lachie will be able to figure it out?
In Book 3, Ringo’s Road Trip, black Labrador pup Ringo joins April, Archie and their parents as the family embarks on a road trip for a beach holiday. The journey brings several new experiences for Ringo as he learns how to behave in the car, and how to adapt to unfamiliar environments. When Ringo and the children come face to face with a dangerous snake, the puppy shows he has what it takes to protect the humans in his care. But it all proves too much for Ringo and he runs away. Despite a wide search, the family is unable to find him before night fall. Can Ringo put his puppy training to the ultimate test, and find his way back home?
Reviewed by Jane O’Connell