Today’s blog post is one for you dog-fans out there. I’m delighted to be sharing ‘Moon Dog’ with you and a special piece by author, Jane Elson, about the importance of thorough research when writing.
Marcus sticks out like a sore thumb at school, easily the tallest in his year and angry all the time – he’s caught the eye of the local gang and is seriously considering joining them so at least he’ll have some friends. Then along comes new girl, Delilah. Definitely the smallest in their year but full of fire, Marcus knows they could be great friends. This is cemented when he discovers Delilah is as desperate for a pet dog as he is.
The pair have more than a longing for a dog in common. Marcus’s mother has left the family and Dad is struggling to cope. Delilah has lost her dad and her mum is finding it difficult to settle anywhere new.
When a mysterious Moon Dog appears in the garden of the deserted house next door, Marcus can’t believe his luck and visits every night. However it soon becomes clear that something strange is going on and that Moon Dog is in grave danger. Marcus and Delilah are going to have to muster all their courage to save their dream dog.
This is a story with real depth and heart. It was clear to see how badly Marcus was hurt by the disappearance of his mother and his father’s struggle with depression. It’s important that mental health issues amongst parents and caregivers are highlighted in children’s books as many of their readers will be living in very similar situations.
It was also interesting to read a middle grade title which highlighted the issue of puppy farming and all the problems which come with it. Children should now that pet ownership is about more than playing ball and talking walks (although obviously those are very important!) When looking to home a new pet, check carefully that you’re dealing with a responsible breeder or, better still, adopt from a rescue centre.
Now it’s time to hear from author, Jane Elson about what inspired her to write a story about puppy farming and how she ensured it was accurately represented.
Lucy’s Law & the Importance of Research
by Jane Elson.
I am obsessed with my research. I live and breathe it. It takes me to places I never expected to go, meeting people I would never normally meet and changes my perception on life.
Moon Dog, the story of two eleven year olds, Marcus and Delilah, who discover a heinous puppy farm ring and instigate a daring rescue, was no exception. The research took me to a dark place but my anger at the puppy farms powered me on to get the book finished, often staying up all night. I watched documentary after documentary. Among them were Grace Victory’s excellent ‘The Cost Of Cute: The Dark Side Of the Puppy Trade’ and Samantha Poling’s ‘The Dog Factory’ for BBC Scotland. Noel Fitzpatrick’s film that he made as part of ‘Animal Action Live’ to raise awareness of puppy farms had a big impact on me. He was locked in a cage in the back of a van for six hours and driven for miles to replicate the long journey that many of these puppies make when smuggled into the country.
Nothing beats having an actual conversation with someone during research, and I owe so much of my knowledge to some incredible activists and campaigners from the dog community.
Marc Abraham met with me for a whole afternoon to talk me through his Lucy’s Law Campaign. Lucy’s Law, passed through Parliament in Spring 2020, requires puppies and kittens to be born and raised in a safe environment with their mothers and sold from the place they were born in. At the time of writing this we are still waiting for Lucy’s Law to pass in Scotland and Wales. Lucy was a brave and beautiful Cavalier King Charles Spaniel whose story sparked off the campaign. Her life started off in tragedy as a puppy–farm dog kept in a cage and used to breed from, but ended her years being loved and cherished by Lisa Garner, who campaigned tirelessly for Lucy’s Law alongside Marc.
I had an emotional telephone conversation with campaigner Linda Goodman from CARIADinitiative (Care and Respect Includes All Dogs) whose help was invaluable in writing Moon Dog. She talked to me about the broken puppy-farm survivors that she helps become a whole dog again. I respect her so much.
Vet Duncan D’Arcy-Howard from the Royal Veterinary College showed continued kindness, support, knowledge and patience with my endless questions about parvovirus.
Superintendent Simon Osborne from the RSPCAalso gave me guidance.
So you can see that I had a whole team of experts to call upon for research.
Why, you might ask yourself, have I chosen such a subject for a children’s book? Every day a child’s heart is broken because their family has bought a sick puppy from an unscrupulous puppy farmer. Moon Dog is an exciting adventure story that also has friendship and laughter in its pages – but at the same time, if it can also show children how to responsibly go about getting a puppy, by teaching them what to look out for and the right questions to ask, then my mission is complete.
I think this just highlights the vital role that books like Jane’s play not only in entertaining young readers, but educating them too.
*Many thanks to Hodder Children’s Books for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour. Make sure you visit the other stops too*