Thursday 27 May 2021

The Underdogs: #1 Ruff and ready

The Underdogs: #1 Ruff and ready by Tracy West, illustrated by Kyla May  (Scholastic Australia) ISBN 9781761126253 RRP $14.99

Reviewed by Claire Saxby

Nova and her friends have never passed their K9 exam or achieved a Best in Show award. The group of friends motivated by Nova attempt to train in various ways to achieve their goal. Motivated, but always finding obstacles to overcome, including the mean comments from fellow students at the Barksdale Academy, the pups finally come together on the big day. The main action takes place at school and in the park where the pups train. Nova relates the elation then sadness as her plans unravel and the pups struggle to change. The team’s name and title of the book Underdogs relates the fact all the pups started as runts. Dog related terms are prevalent throughout the book so children will need to understand this if reading the title themselves.

As an early chapter book the title has some nice messages such as being yourself and understanding diversity. Nova’s grandmother provides sage advice to the young pup aiming high for success. Each pup has different fears or issues. The frequent black and white illustrations provide good picture text recognition for early readers or for those who are hooked on the graphic novel style.  Overall, this is a good read for animal lovers aged 6 years plus.

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