This selection of poems about dogs, all ‘written by dogs with help’ of the two poets, giving a dog’s view of life is fun to read, but also perceptive and sometimes moving. These two poets have been writing and performing for a long time, and individually and in collaboration their poems and workshops are enjoyed by thousands of children. Both are National Poetry Day ambassadors: Brian Moses is Reading Champion for the National Literacy Trust and Co-Director of the Able Writers’ Scheme, which he founded in 2002. Roger Stevens started the Poetry Archive, where children send in their poems, and is the author of Off By Heart, encouraging children to learn poems.
The joy of being a dog is celebrated in Running with the pack: “And out we leap/we’re running and bouncing and barking and laughing…” but some dogs are not so happy: the dog who has to follow her owner running through Central Park resents not having time to sniff about and greet dog friends. Another dog is almost within reach of a rabbit in the brambles, though the human is calling and his voice is cross- just a few minutes more…In Call me Lucky one dog feels very lucky because the human is with her all the time, and shares his food with her. They sleep on the street together, and we realise what their situation is. Then there is Rescue Dog who hopes his new owner will “realise/why my eyes are filled with fear. Tell me again/that you understand/why I flinch when you come near.” This dog needs time, and to “believe that you’re someone who really will care”. There is Divorce dog – the third dog who is accused of being the last straw – some of these concepts are hard, which is why the older age range is suggested for independent reading, though a teacher could use some of the poems easily with younger children. Call me yappy, The door was open, Hot dog and A little bit of this, about being proud to be a mongrel, are suitable for any child. The dog in The Dog Show who watches all the prize-winners sadly and is finally recognised for having The Waggiest Tail is delightful, and the last poem, Stick is just brilliant: “It might seem obvious to you humans/but it puzzles me every day. If you want the stick so badly/why do you throw it away?” Ed Boxall’s cartoons of mostly scruffy dogs of all shapes and sizes are just perfect for this book. Enjoy!