Saturday 4 May 2019

Mr Walker Gets the Inside Scoop

Mr Walker Gets the Inside Scoop by Jess Black, illustrated by Sara Acton (Puffin Books) HB RRP $14.99 ISBN 9780143793090

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

The real Mr Walker is a dog, which, trained by Guide Dogs Victoria to aid vision-impaired people, now resides with his official foster carer at Park Hyatt Melbourne hotel. Australian author Jess Black, has written a series of chapter books for children aged 7 to 10 years about Mr Walker, fictionalising his many adventures in the hotel.
Mr Walker, Labrador Ambassador, works with hotel manager, Henry Reeves, head concierge Omid Abedini, porter Thomas Glover and a slew of other hotel staff. At the start of this story, the Reeves family, who include children Sophie and Amanda, are leaving Mr Walker for a holiday and can’t take their pet with them. While Mr Reeves is away, the hotel is expecting a new guest, the fastidious reviewer Jamie Gibson who invariably pans hotels, and a hospitality student seeking work experience.

While preparing for the reviewer and aiming to totally impress her, staff are bothered by Mr Walker’s attempts to help, which invariably cause more troubles. Then there’s a mix-up, cleverly handled by the author, about who the student and the reviewer both are, but like all books for young readers that are written to entertain, all is fine by the end of the book.

This is an impressive-looking hard-back book which feels good in the hand and is well-designed with occasional black and white wash illustrations and sharp, clear typeface. There are moments of humour when poor Mr Walker misunderstands figures of speech he overhears. He’s a dog who everybody clearly loves and he’s right in the thick of the action in Operation Five Stars which is what the preparation for the arrival of the guest reviewer is called.

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