Dog Squad, by Meredith Costain

“Hey, Face-ache! You call that a pitch?”
Cheezel waves his bat in the direction of the ball I’ve just powered down to him. What does he mean? It was a good pitch. Sweet and true. So what if it veered off to the side a bit at the last moment. How is that my fault?
He retrieves the ball from a bush and lobs it back to me. “My nana could throw straighter than that.”
Cheezel can be very sarcastic at times. The only reason I hang out with him is because he lives next door. Believe me, compared to some of the losers who live in my street, he’s Mr Personality. And it gives me someone to talk to on the way to school.

Jez, Cheezel and Jez’s dog Crunch are playing cricket in the backyard when a bad bounce sends the ball flying through the lounge room window. Crunch squashes the guinea pig cage, and the ball crunches one of Mum’s treasures. Jez is in big trouble. But Jez has a plan. A hasty, almost-complete plan that solves all his problems. All he needs is some help from his friends, a business plan and some cash. Of course nothing is ever that simple and the closer to a solution he comes, the more complications that arise. Jez, Cheezel and Drago navigate their way from vengeful sister to moneylender, from lost dogs to found dogs and more before their adventure ends.

Dog Squad cracks a pace. From the moment the reader meets Jez and Cheezel in Jez’s back yard, it’s apparent that trouble sticks to Jez like burrs to a sock. What begins as an unfortunate accident – or two – is soon a whole raft of trouble. Jez is a quick thinker, but doesn’t always think things through. Cheezel and Drago help to fill in the gaps, providing information and suggestions to flesh out Jez’s plans. Together they are formidable, if wild. Their actions sometimes lead them into more trouble, but eventually also lead them out. Adults are almost invisible in this adventure, with all the action and solutions being provided by the boys themselves. ‘Dog Squad’ is full of the exuberance and enthusiasm that is the pre-teen boy. Recommended for upper-primary readers, particularly boys.

Dog Squad , Meredith Costain
Walker Books 2009
ISBN: 9781921529160

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review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author