Thursday 22 June 2023

Hedgehog the Wonder Dog

Hedgehog the Wonder Dog by Dannika Patterson (Ford St Publishing), RRP $17.95 PB ISBN 9-781922-696212

Reviewed by Susan Hancy

Hedgehog is a scruffy-looking mutt who rolls over when told to fetch and shakes her paw when told to sit. Others tried to guess what type of dog she is, but no one can see her superpowers except for Sam – a sick boy in hospital counting down the sleeps until Friday, which is the day that Hedgehog always comes to visit him.

Simply yet beautifully told, we learn about the ordinary dog activities that Hedgehog does at home during the week, while Sam goes through the routine associated with his long-term stay in hospital. Thursdays are typically days that Sam undergoes testing, and we learn through the illustrations by Ross Morgan that on some Fridays he undergoes chemotherapy. That’s why it’s so important to him to have Hedgehog to snuggle with on Fridays – for Hedgehog to just stay with Sam and to understand what’s going on for him.

This book was great for a discussion with my own kids about children with cancer, what life in the hospital can be like for them and how horrible chemotherapy can make them feel. The combination of story and illustrations strikes a nice balance between presenting this sad situation versus some of the more fun activities that Sam does to pass his time earlier in the week and how he loves playing with Hedgehog when he comes to visit. The final page shows Hedgehog and a bunch of other superhero dogs have successfully passed on their superpowers to make their respective child owners into superheroes, so my kids and I have chosen to believe that Sam has made a full recovery.

Recommended for children aged 5 to 8 years.

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