It was a pleasure to pick up this picture book which manages to be whimsical and charming in a modern graphic format. Zoe lives by a river with her ‘Dear Old Dog’. The underlying theme – how to combine a sense of adventure with a longing for home and security – is an enduring one. Dog does not like the sound of Zoe’s wish to run away to sea. ‘There won’t be room for me,’ he says dolefully but Zoe does not seem to hear. She is too busy packing the boat for her trip, helped by her list of items which includes ‘pencils, knitting wool, volley ball and bedtime shawl’. The pictures show the contrast between Zoe’s energetic preparations and sad-eyed Dog’s ruminations. The comic strip format fits well with Zoe’s rushing about. Her relentless activity – steering, cooking, gardening and cleaning continues as she takes her little boat towards the sea. But at night ‘A star shines in through the porthole and Zoe dreams of Dear Old Dog back at home’.
Then things change and Zoe learns that an adventure can bring danger and risk. The sea is big and angry and waves are sweeping away her things but Dog is there when she really needs his help. Together they arrive safely home. This book tells young readers much about friendship. It would be an excellent read-aloud story for young children and an appealing adventure for newly independent readers to enjoy.