For those that know me, it goes without saying that I am a massive dog person. I had been keeping my eye on the age 9+ proof copies sent to the bookshop when I saw What’s That in Dog Years? by Ben Davis had come in. Reading the blurb, I was certain it would be right up my street.
George is in Year 8 at school and he’s having a tough time. His parents are newly divorced, he’s struggling with anxiety, and he’s being bullied in and outside of the classroom. The one constant in George’s life is his dog Gizmo, but he’s fourteen and starting to get poorly. George decides to make Gizmo a bucket list, so that they can have one big final adventure together.
I really enjoyed this book and think I would have loved it as a child – not only does it deal with some tough topics in a very sensitive way, it also has some really good kid’s humour – poking fun at teachers, hating vegetables and plenty of fart jokes included.
There is sadness, and I did shed a tear, (authors killing off dogs is my Achilles heel.) However, there is a lightness of touch in the writing that doesn’t make this material too heavy for a young reader, which I think is a great balance to strike.
If you have ever owned a dog or family pet, and had the horrible task of saying goodbye to them, or if you know children in a similar situation to George, I think this book could be really useful.