Dog Gone

Authored by Rob Biddulph
Published by HarperCollins

Dog Gone: We all know dogs own their pet humans. The demand walks, tell us when they want to play and make it clear when it’s time for a treat. So meet Teddy the pug, the latest animal character from Rob Biddulph, award-winning author and creator of the phenomenally successful Draw with Rob.

Teddy is short for Edward Pugglesworth, a fitting name for a dog with a pet human. Teddy’s pet human is called Dave and he’s kept upstairs. Every morning at eight, Teddy wakes Dave and takes him for his morning walk in the park. It’s a regular routine but… one-day,  things do not go to plan. When they get to the shed by the merry-go-round, Teddy is sure he can see the infamous terrible, dog eating troll lurking inside. An astute reader will have a sense of foreboding, something is surely going to go wrong. Teddy quickly pushes his fears to one side and enjoys the delights of his early morning walk, chasing rabbits, and squirrels. When he turns to look for Dave, he finds he is well and truly lost,,, perhaps he left Dave in the troll’s shed? It’s going to take every ounce of courage Teddy has to seek out his lost human.

Rhyming stories are great for pre and early readers. They have a memorable join-in quality which makes them perfect for reading aloud and rereading if the story is strong enough to sustain in. Dog Gone is a well-paced story with emotional ups and downs that encourage an adult reader to read dramatically, exaggerating the moments of high drama that will have robust children squealing with delight. Imagine how this plays out as you collude with the children sharing the story:

For there in the shed by the merry-go-round    (build suspense)

They say that a TERRIBLE TROLL can be found (exaggerating and pulling terrible troll faces at each other)

With fur-covered face and huge eyes of bright green

He loves chasing dogs with his EATING MACHINE (much tickling and shrieking to be had here)

There is plenty of reassurance in this story, so after the children have enjoyed the frisson caused by the troll’s appearance and his we return to a fun=packed scene at the park with lots to spot and talk about – even the Queen and her corgis make an appearance.

Fortunately, all turns out well for Teddy and he is eventually rescued by the ‘troll’, who isn’t as terrible as he’d imagined. There are lots of talking points here for children in pre-school and early years. There’s the obvious point about not making judgements about people that you don’t know. You may also find the story opens up a possibility to talk about Clever Never Goes – a balanced message for children that aims not to instil panic but help them learn to stay safe, without developing fear that every unknown person is a danger to them.

A great addition to Rob’s picturebook portfolio. Teddy has all appeal to become a favourite character and may even demand another adventure.

Rob Biddulph chats to Nikki In the Reading Corner about design and his Dinosaur Juniors series.