Having previously met Fiona several times at the Picture Book Club she runs, and listened to talks with her about other authors’ experiences of getting published, I am absolutely delighted to be hosting her very own picture book and special post on my blog today.
There is nothing Danny wants more than a real live dog of his very own. He’s tried everything he can think of to persuade his mum to let him have one. His cuddly toy dogs must be the best looked after and trained in the neighbourhood! But mum just won’t budge.
When a new neighbour move into the flat below theirs, Danny’s mum pops down to say hello. She makes an amazing discovery – Mrs. Owen has a pet dog called Maximus who’s full of energy and needs someone with younger legs than she to take him for regular walks. Whatever the weather.
Danny’s mum then comes up with a plan which just might suit all involved parties. But what will Danny think when he’s responsible for taking a real living, breathing dog for a walk?!
I read this to Book Boy Jr at bedtime and he completely understood how the dog-walking arrangement might suit everyone involved. It also led to a long discussion about what pet he might like when he’s older (a small dog or a budgerigar if you’re interested!) He also loves looking at Howard Gray’s beautiful illustrations for hidden clues about the story and to decide which dog he liked best.
For me, this lovely story had a very positive message about being a responsible pet owner, family and taking care of your neighbours, all whilst being funny at the same time. For Book Boy Jr, it was a brilliant bedtime story which he requested again the next day. You don’t get a better recommendation than that!
And now for a special post by author, Fiona Barker, about writing a book about dog-ownership despite never having owned one:
I seem to have written a book about a dog even though I’ve never owned one. How did that happen? Well, I may not have a dog but I do have a daughter who has always wanted one. ‘Can we get a dog?’ has been a consistent refrain in our house pretty much from when my daughter started talking. She has numerous dog reference books and we have lots of discussions about what her dream dog would look like. When we’re out for a walk we are often accompanied by Bailey, her imaginary dog. And she has tried all the things that Danny tries to convince us to get a dog.
Here is her best pleading/sad face:
We tried to put her off with guinea pigs but that didn’t stop the requests. Our current pets, two gorgeous rats called Darwin and Attenborough, are currently playing the role of surrogate dogs. They’re quite successful as distractions but sadly they don’t live very long (we’re already on our second lot) and it’s quite difficult to take them out for improving walks on the beach.
Speaking to friends, it seemed that wanting a dog is something that comes up a lot in family discussions. Dogs are amazing. They can make really special pets and become very much part of the family. But there are so many reasons why it might not be possible for a family to get a dog. For us it was related to being out all day and allergies in the extended family. I thought it might be interesting to explore that in a story. Was it possible to experience some of the joy of having a dog without actually having one? The idea of having the main character helping to walk their neighbours dog came up when a lady from down our road offered to let my daughter take her dog out for walks. She loved it. She was getting some of the benefit of having a dog without me having to worry about the day-to-day responsibility of caring for one.
There is also a sub-plot in Danny about bringing people together. I’m really interested in how children relate to older adults. The bond between children and grandparents is a special one. And the results of the experiments going on to bring nursery pupils together with the residents of nursing homes are fascinating. So, I decided to make the second character in my story an elderly lady so that I could explore the relationship, not only between child and dog, but also between old and young people.
I hope young readers who yearn for their own dream dog will identify with Danny and that older readers will think about how pets can bring people together.
Thank you, Fiona. An important message about the power of pets and responsible pet ownership.
Make sure you take a peek at the other stops and special blog posts on the ‘Danny and the Dream Dog’ blog tour.
*Many thanks to Tiny Tree Children’s Books for sending me this title to review*