‘The Dog that Saved the World (Cup),’ by Phil Earle, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli.

Today I have a story with football at its heart but also so much more. It has the added bonus of being published by Barrington Stoke who specialise in sharp, snappy reads with a dyslexia-friendly format.

‘Pickles the dog and his owner Elsie love football more than anything. And they’ve just heard the most amazing news. The World Cup is coming home to England and Elsie’s team have a chance to play in a half-time match at Wembley – with some help from Pickles, of course!

But life off the pitch is tough, even when Dad works hard to provide what they need. It’s their team of three against the world and right now it feels like they’re losing. So when disaster strikes and Elsie’s dreams of playing at Wembley are shattered, it’s up to Pickles to save the world (cup) …’

This is a story which has it all – football, mystery, drama. But – what really stood out for me was that the beating heart of this story focussed around a tight family unit of a dad, his daughter, and their dog who had hit upon hard times.

In and amongst the fancy footwork and World Cup fever, there’s the story of a father struggling to provide a home and food for his daughter. There were moments of real poignancy as dad despaired of their situation but both father and daughter put on a brave face. Unfortunately, this is a situation which is all too real to a lot of children.

Despite the desperate home life, Elsie and Pickles’ love for football shines through as Pickles (the narrator of the story) helps Elsie’s team win the chance to play in a half-time match at the World Cup final at Wembley!

Based on two true stories (the theft of the World Cup in 1966 and its discovery by a dog, and the real life story of footballer Fara Williams who was homeless for much of her time as England player), this is a great read for anyone aged 8+

Library Girl.

*Many thanks to Barrington Stoke for sending me this title to review*

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