Our Dog Benji by Pete Carter ill James Henderson

I love our dog Benji.
Sometimes I think I’d like to be more like him.
He eats almost anything
and everything.
I’m not that adventurous.

A small, unnamed boy shares the adventures of his loved dog, Benji. Benji eats everything, makes friends with everyone, explores. Through his dog’s antics, the boy explores his own world and his place in it. Illustrations depict both real and imagined Benji-ness. Our Dog Benji is a smaller format hardback picture book with full colour pages and end papers detailing some of Benji’s favourite things.

Children learn a lot from observing what happens around them, and for the small child, that can often be a pet. Their adoption of what they see may not always be discriminating, but it can help them navigate their lives. Benji is a lovable, loving and loved dog. He is friend, companion, teacher and challenger to the viewpoint character. There is plenty here – particularly for a quiet observer-child – to support learning and living well. Recommended for early school years.

Our Dog Benji, Pete Carter ill James Henderson
EK Books 2017 ISBN: 9781925335330

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
www.clairesaxby.com

Hot Dog!, by Anh Do

If you’re thinking this book is about the yummy hotdog that you eat, then you’re thinking of the wrong hotdog!

Hotdog is a long skinny dog – a sausage dog – who likes to try hard to get things right. His friend Lizzie is a lizard, who’s good at blending in, and their other friend, Kevin, is a lazy cat whose humans dress him up in all kinds of costumes. When the trip meet in the park for a ply, they are joined by a baby bird who has fallen out of his nest. The trio of friends are determined to get the bird back to his mother – but first they have to deal with obstacles including karate-chopping roosters and even dirty nappies.

Hotdog is a brand new series from comedian and best-selling author Anh Do. With simple, humorous text and cartoon-style illustrations (by Dan McGuiness), and textual embellishments to add interest, including different font sizes and speech bubbles, this first book will delight young readers transitioning to chapter books.

Hotdog, by Anh Do & Dan McGuiness
Scholastic 2016
ISBN 9781760279004

My Dog Dash by Nicki Greenberg

My dog Dash wasn’t very well-behaved at puppy school.

I think the teacher could have been a bit more patient with him.

My dog Dash wasn’t very well-behaved at puppy school.

I think the teacher could have been a bit more patient with him.

Dash’s story is told by a young girl who loves him. Dash attends puppy school, but although he does many of the same things as other puppies, the teacher is unimpressed. He’s great at ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ but is still working on other tasks. Walking Dash is slow because he’s interested in everything he sees. But he is her pet, and she loves him, despite what others might see as his failures or peccadillos. Illustrations are full page and provide plenty of humour.

Dash is an unusual dog, but there are plenty of those in the world. This young girl is caring and responsible with her pet, despite the reactions of others. ‘My Dog Dash’ is hilarious and will be fun to share with one reader or many. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

My Dog Dash, Nicki Greenberg Allen & Unwin 2016 ISBN: 9781760110673

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Pig the Elf, by Aaron Blabey

How he loved Christmas!
He’d chortle with glee –
‘The presents! The presents!
For ME! ME! ME! ME!

It’s Christmas Eve and Pig and his patient friend Trevor are excited. But while Trevor has written to Santa asking just for ‘something nice’, Pig has written an almost-endless list of demands. And, while Trevor knows that Santa will come when he’s asleep, Pig is determined to stay up to see Santa. The waiting is hard, but harder still is his realisation that Santa hasn’t brought him everything on his list. He wants to make Santa pay – with hilarious results.

Pig the Elf is the latest in this much-loved picture book series featuring Pig the selfish (yet somehow lovable) Pug and his long-suffering friend Trevor the dachsund. In bouncy, humorous verse complemented with big generous acrylic illustrations, this is sure to be a favourite this Christmas season.
Pig the Elf, by Aaron Blabey
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781760154271

Go Home, Cheeky Animals! by Johanna Bell & Dion Beasley

At Canteen Creek here we live, there are cheeky dogs everywhere.

Mum gets frustrated by the cheeky dogs hanging around the cap and tries to shoo them away – but Grandpa says they help to keep the other cheeky animals away. When the rains come, so too do the other animals – first a gang of goats then a drove of donkeys, followed by horses, buffaloes and camels. Finally, everyone has had enough – especially the cheeky dogs, who growl at the cheeky animals until they go home. Now the cheeky dogs have the camp to themselves – untilt he enxt time the big rains come.

Go Home Cheeky Animals is humorous, delightful book filled with cheeky dogs and, of course, the other cheeky animals, getting into all sorts of mischief around the camp. Kids will love the story but will especially connect with the illustrative style of Dion Beasley whose work is really accessible and simple – yet filled with life, humour and detail.

Children from remote indigenous communities are offered a story here which connects with camp life, while kids form other parts of Australia will enjoy the insight Go Home Cheeky Animals offers, alongside its humour.

To learn more about the collaboration behind this book and its predecessor, Too Many Cheeky DOgs, visit the creators’ website here.

Go Home Cheeky Animals, by Johanna Bell and Dion Beasley
Allen & Unwin, 2016
ISBN 9781760291655

 

Available from good bookstores or online from Booktopia. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

The Whole Caboodle, by Lisa Shanahan & Leila Rudge

Wakey-wakey peachy pear,
my fuzzy-wuzzy grizzly bear,
my tootsy-wootsy fizzyjig,
my hurdie-gurdie whirligig!

It’s walk time. A cute ginger and white dog wakes, eager for his morning walk. He wakes his bearded owner, excited at who they might meet in the park today. Will it be one itzy-bitzy Poodle, or two lovey-dovey Bolonoodles?

The Whole Caboodle is a gorgeous rhyming counting book, featuring not just the narrating dog, but a whole feast of dogs big and small, real and recreated. As the little dog and his owner prepare for their walk, each new dog is mimicked by something in the illustration. So, when one poodle is mentioned, there is a poodle teapot cosy as the owner eats breakfast, and the two Bolnoodles are represented by a pair of dog slippers. On the final spread, in the park, when they meet ‘the whole caboodle’, the real dogs are present, and readers will have fun spotting and counting them.

Youngsters will enjoy the rhyming text, with its creative use of words created for tongue-twisting fun, and the  illustrations with matching whimsical detail. This one will demand repeated rereadings.

The Whole Caboodle, by Lisa Shanahan & Leila Rudge
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781743629321

Fizz and the Police Dog Tryouts by Lesley Gibbes ill Stephen Michael King

‘I’m not a little puppy anymore!’ sang Fizz to the world. ‘I’m all grown up and ready to find a job.’

Fizz knew exactly what job he wanted.

‘I want to be a police dog,’ he said, puffing out his chest.

‘I’m not a little puppy anymore!’ sang Fizz to the world. ‘I’m all grown up and ready to find a job.’

Fizz knew exactly what job he wanted.

‘I want to be a police dog,’ he said, puffing out his chest.

Fizz has all the right attributes for a police dog: he is brave; clever; and super-fast. There’s only one teensy tiny problem – Fizz doesn’t look like a police dog. He is ‘a small cute ball of white, fizzy, fuzzy fur’. But while others may think his looks disqualify him from any real chance of becoming a police dog, Fizz is determined. It’s clear that he’s not the only dog keen to tryout – there are dogs of all shapes and sizes lining up for the tryouts. Most are friendly, but Amadeus, a big, black, cold-eyed, gang-leader dog, is scathing. Fizz, he says, has less than no chance. One by one, dogs are sent home as they fail the tests. Fizz is undaunted. There are illustrations on every opening, a character spread and a contents page.

‘Fizz The Police Dog Series’ offers four titles about Fizz and his adventures. Fizz and the Police Dog Tryouts is Book 1. Each title is in a different colour, and numbers on the spine are complemented by a letter on each title, spelling out the name of the main character. Fizz makes many friends, although not all of them are destined to be police dogs. The character sketches introduce the reader to the dogs and people they will encounter. Titled and numbered chapters also include full page illustrations which hint at the action to come. Fizz may be little, but he’s friendly, smart and determined. Fizz has a lovely supportive family, although his mother, particularly, thinks he really should join the show circuit. Recommended for junior primary independent readers.

Fizz and the Police Dog Tryouts, Leslie Gibbes ill Stephen Michael King
Allen & Unwin 2016 ISBN: 9781760112851

Fizz and the Dog Academy Rescue by Lesley Gibbes ill Stephen Michael King

‘Whoo-hoo!’ barked Fizz, as he leapt out of bed and raced to his breakfast bowl.

‘Slow down, son,’ said Fizz’s father. ‘There’s plenty of time before you leave for the academy.’

Fizz buzzed all over. His dream of becoming a police dog had come true.

‘Did you clean your ears, sugarplum?’ asked Fizz’s mother.

‘Yes, Mum,’ said Fizz, between mouthfuls of food.

‘Well, give your fur a good shake. I want you to look especially fluffy on your first day of training.’

‘Whoo-hoo!’ barked Fizz, as he leapt out of bed and raced to his breakfast bowl.

‘Slow down, son,’ said Fizz’s father. ‘There’s plenty of time before you leave for the Academy.’

Fizz buzzed all over. His dream of becoming a police dog had come true.

‘Did you clean your ears, sugarplum?’ asked Fizz’s mother.

‘Yes, Mum,’ said Fizz, between mouthfuls of food.

‘Well, give your fur a good shake. I want you to look especially fluffy on your first day of training.’

Fizz is very excited to be beginning his training as an undercover police dog. He may not look like a police dog, but that’s going to be an advantage in undercover work. But first there are detective skills for him and new friend Remi, to master. Only then can they graduate as undercover police dogs. Amadeus, the dog who does look like a police dog, is convinced that Fizz and Remi will fail. There are illustrations on every opening, chapter headings and full page illustrations, a character spread and a contents page.

‘A Police Dog Adventure’ featuring Fizz and friends is a new series of early chapter books from Allen & Unwin. This is Book 2 of four titles so far. In this instalment, Fizz, his friends and his nemesis are at the Academy for training. Amadeus is sure Fizz is a poor chioce as a recruit, but Fizz and his friend Remi are to be undercover police dogs precisely because they are not stereotypically police dogs. Their extra training begins almost immediately when other recruits are being injured and sent home. It’s up to Fizz and Remi to work out what’s going on. Lots of fun and pun for beginner readers. Recommended for newly independent readers ready for first chapter books.

Fizz and the Dog Academy Rescue, Lesley Gibbes ill Stephen Michael King
Allen & Unwin 2016 ISBN: 9781760112844

Mrs Dog, by Janeen Brian & Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

‘Leave it, Mrs Dog,’ called Tall One.
‘It’s too small and weak to live.’
But Mrs Dog carried the little Woolly-Head home to the Big Kennel.

Mrs Dog is getting too old to round up sheep, but when she finds a tiny orphaned lamb, she is determined to help him. She takes him home, keeps him warm and tries to teach him all that she knows. Baa-rah does his best to do the things Mrs Dog teaches him, and one day, when it is Mrs DOg who needs help, Baa-Rah saves the day.

Mrs Dog is an adorable picture book story about an unlikely friendship between a dog and a sheep, elderly and very young. Children will love not just the events of the story, but the use of language, with Mrs Dog’s terminology for sheep being Woolly-Heads, the humans called Tall Ones and so on. The illustrations, in soft colours and with loads of detail, capture farm life and the expressions of the animals. A wonderful touch is that while the humans do lend a helping hand, they are barely there in the illustrations, allowing the bond between animals to be highlighted.

A lovely picture book.

Mrs Dog, by Janeen Brian & Marjorie Crosby-Fairall
Five Mile, 2016
ISBN 9781760066451

Pig the Winner, by Aaron Blabey

Pig was a Pug
and I’m sorry to say,
if he didn’t come first
it would ruin his day…

Believe it or not,
he was quite hard to beat.
And the reason was simple …
Yes, Pig was a cheat.

Pig the Pug is back in his third laugh out loud adventure and, as always, Trevor the Dachshund is right by his side. This time, Pug is doing whatever it takes to win, and making a contest or race from everything he and Trevor do. But, when he insists on an eating race, he eats more than he intended, ending up with the bowl wedged in his mouth.

Using jaunty, well-written rhyming text Pig the Winner tells a tale that is chiefly humorous but also has a gentle message about competitiveness and friendship. Blabey’s illustrations , in acrylic as well as pen and pencil, are filled with funny details, and the facial expressions of both characters are hilarious.

Perfect for read-aloud sharing, Pig the Winner is a winner.

Pig the Winner, by Aaron Blabey
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781760154288