Full pages of illustration have very few words as Simon James introduces us to a few dogs. ‘This is Polly’, then we turn the page to discover that she belongs to Molly. So it goes, with Martha belonging to Arthur, and more dogs belonging to rhyming owners and even looking rather like them: Martha is an Old English Sheepdog, and her owner is an equally shaggy saxophonist, busking to the delight of some dancing children. Mr Scruff, a dog in the rescue centre, has no one. We meet some more dogs and their owners, and go back to Mr Scruff, who is looking sad, until a boy turns up- it’s Jim (who is mixed race). They get on well, and Jim persuades his parents that no, he doesn’t want a little puppy, and a big, older dog, is the right dog for him. We go through all the rhyming dogs again, and “Mr Scruff belongs to Jim. And though it doesn’t rhyme, it’s all worked out just fine.” But then we meet Mr Gruff, who comes to the rescue centre, and chooses a small puppy called – wait for it- Tim- but it doesn’t matter: they suit each other anway.
The dogs, and their respective and sometimes eccentric owners, are great characters in Simon James’ illustrations. He is well known now for critically acclaimed books like Leon and Bob, Dear Greenpeace, The Wild Woods and the Baby Brains series, all very different, but in his own scratchy style, and this cheerful story of friendship will be good to read aloud and share.