A boy sets out to take part in a fun run on a bleak day. Unable to speak in front of others, he is determined to win the race to save his mother from having to do jobs which 'leave her with red raw hands and cold feet.' However, he witnesses a car accident whilst on the way there and goes to offer help. The driver is dead, but his dog has survived- a dog wearing earmuffs. Trying to save the dog is a challenge, but he eventually makes it back home where the dog becomes part of the family and things start to look up for them until someone came looking for the dog. Will the boy and his dog be able to stay together?
Only 82 pages long, 'A Different Dog' appears a simple story at first glance; however, a lot happens in these pages. There is so much to explore and discuss. Never named, the boy is resilient and courageous; his inability to talk stems from an awful incident with Deefer, his first dog, and results in his being bullied by other children. The way in which he finally finds his voice is powerfully handled- not for himself, but for his new companion.
The book is beautifully written. In such a short novel, every word has been carefully chosen to create maximum impact, resulting in vivid descriptions. Each chapter starts with a black and white drawing to set the scene and the ending is very satisfying and you feel the boy and his family really deserve their happiness.
A moving and powerful read for those looking for something a bit different.
A Different Dog Paul Jennings, illustrated by Geoff Kelly
Old Barn Books ISBN: 978-1910646427