Having just got a very naughty dog myself, I related to this story of a boy’s enduring love for his unruly pet. When Ben’s parents decide they must get some respite from the over-active Buster, Grampa is volunteered to care for the animal. So sets in motion the anxious Ben’s careful instructions to give Buster the best time while they’re away. Funny, detailed and informative, much of the text is the written lists, letters and postcards that Ben sends Grampa. There is love in every line of this story, with the boy’s care, concern and thoughtfulness as the leitmotif. The depth of his love is shown not only in his detailed knowledge of his pet, but in their tearful farewell.
Lively fun splashes across the pages in a crisp comic style, with cartoons juxtaposed to a photographic reality. The notes are full of handy tips and drawn with a scribbly marker (clearly done by Ben) as a contrast to the other drawings. This subtly adds a visual continuity and makes a stylishly sharp book.
The climax of Ben’s belated warning about the Post Office will tickle children and adults alike, while the farts, barks, bites, growls, yowls and chases (this is a very noisy book) add to the mayhem. Thank goodness Grampa is able to give a few handy tips on training this Buster and making him (almost) into the family pet for which Ben’s parents yearn.