Dog Gone, by Carol Poustie

 couldn’t open the present. Not now, not after hearing the news. And certainly not with Mum and Molly gawking at me. I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone else seeing what he’d chosen for me until I’d seen it myself.
I needed more time to get over the shock. We’d open it later, in my room, Lucky and me. I pushed the pile of presents aside and stood up. ‘I’m going for a walk with Lucky. I’m not in a birthday mood anymore.’

Everything is turned upside-down for Ish. His father has taken a job in Sydney, leaving Ish, his sister Molly and his mother in Melbourne. His grandfather has just died. His mother is travelling to Mongolia with a friend. He and Molly are staying with Gran. As if that wasn’t enough, his dog Lucky has vanished. Ish has always loved staying at Gran’s but this time, everything he does, everywhere he goes is a reminder that Grandpa is no longer there. Molly and Ish both struggle to make sense of their altered world in their own way. Molly lashes out at those closest to her. Ish focuses on finding missing Lucky, his best friend. He writes a poem every day for Lucky. The poems reveal not just Lucky’s adventures but what’s been happening in Ish’s life. Ish also goes fishing with Grandpa’s very special fishing rod. It helps to bring Grandpa close.

There’s a lot going on in Ish’s life. A lot more than any boy and his dog should have to cope with. Death, parents separating, moving house (if only temporarily), bullying and more. At least he has his dog. Until he too disappears. Ish uses his fishing time to think, away from all the ‘noise’ made by Molly, Gran and all her visitors. Ish tells his story in first person. This bring the reader close and allows them to see some things that Ish can’t or won’t. Grandpa was a poet and Ish discovers that he too can capture images in poetry and that this helps him cope while he looks for Lucky. But Grandpa’s influence extends beyond his magic with words. He seems to appear when Ish most needs him. Dog Gone mixes reality with a little magic in a well-paced novel for mid- to upper-primary readers.

Dog Gone Carole Poustie
Avant Press 2010
ISBN: 9780980448450

Reviewed by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author