Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Smartest Dog of All

The Smartest Dog of All by Ian Horrocks, illustrated by Sue deGennaro (Omnibus Books for Scholastic Australia)
PB RRP $11.99
ISBN 9781862918108
Reviewed by Vicki Stanton

Another gem from the treasure box called the Mates series.The Smartest Dog of All is a humorous and enjoyable story of a boy and his dog Wit or Whitlam when he is in trouble. Wit is a very demanding dog. In fact, he could be considered jealous and trouble ensues if Wit feels like he has been forgotten.

Wit is very clever, so clever he should be allowed to attend school, and so clever that when his owner receives Dog Training for Beginners for his birthday that Wit rips the book to bits. The boy is devastated but during the night his parents tape and glue the book back together. Wit does the tricks from the books so easily that the boy reckons that Wit has learnt to read. 'He just hadn't learned to turn the pages.' I laughed out loud at that line!

Humorous references to the political differences of opinion between Dad and Grandpop regarding Gough Whitlam and, later in the book, to Robert Menzies provide an additional layer to the text. There is also a note from author Ian Horrocks regarding Australia's prime ministers, the national sport of running down politicians and the importance of having an opinion.

Sue deGennaro's full colour illustrations are a highlight of the book. The personality of Wit is vividly bought to life. A warning - every young reader is bound to want a dog just like Wit. He is adorable!

The presentation of the book is another strength of the Mates series. Illustrations adorn every page, contributing to and breaking up the text. Newly competent or reluctant readers will be drawn to this format which is the perfect step from picture books for younger children to chapter books.

I can't rate this book or the series highly enough.

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