James Patterson’s immensely popular Middle School series continues in this new children’s comedy. This story features the same popular characters as previous episodes but with a host of brand new problems. Regular readers will be aware that Rafe, the narrator of the Middle School books, is currently experiencing the worst years of his life. School is not easy, his family are very short on cash and, worst of all, he has to tolerate his evil genius little sister, Georgia.
In Dog’s Best Friend, Rafe has a serious problem to which many children will relate: he can’t afford the latest games console. Everyone has the brand new WormHole platform, even his best friend, Flip. Rafe is desperate to get his hands on one so he can start playing TrollQuest at home. To achieve this he has to raise hundreds of dollars and he is only qualified for one profession – dog-walking.
He begins walking his neighbours’ dogs and soon the cash is flowing in, but Rafe has been through too many disasters to think this luck can last and – guess what – it doesn’t! Rafe is not the only local school kid trying to make a few dollars walking pets. He soon finds his own Dogs to Go posters ripped down and replaced by adverts for Cheap Walks. There is a new kid in town: he is a ruthless business competitor; he is determined to put Rafe out of business; and he has a twin brother to help him!
The longsuffering Rafe is no stranger to such adversity (he has already tackled the school bully, unfair punishments and unrequited love in previous books) and it is his actions in response to such challenges that make him such a likeable protagonist. Rafe exchanges pranks with the heartless Cheap Walks twins and even press-gangs his menacing yet studious sister into helping him, but only after attempting reconciliation through peaceful means. Rafe has learned a lot from all his previous hard luck stories, and, though he doesn’t always make the right choice first time round, readers can be confident that he always has the wellbeing of his family and friends (especially his hardworking single mum) at heart.
As well as having sympathy for its narrator, children will enjoy the cheeky cartoon illustrations in Dog’s Best Friend, especially the comic strip extracts, which come direct from Rafe’s imagination and feature his hapless alter-ego, Loozer. Though there is little new or unexpected to surprise readers, the latest Middle School episode follows a tried and tested formula that offers plenty of fun and drama to maintain the interest of loyal fans.