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A Boy, His Dog and the Sea

Authored by Anthony Browne
Illustrated by Anthony Browne
Published by Walker Books Ltd

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A Boy, His Dog and the Sea is a gentle tale of a boy looking for entertainment and finding himself and his dog at the centre of a seaside drama.

Danny is bored because his big brother is out playing. He doesn’t have much hope of finding anything interesting to do while walking his dog at the local beach. He walks along the sand, throws sticks for Patch, looks for faces in pebbles. Then he comes across some people waving to a swimmer. Danny realises the swimmer is in trouble and sends Patch to make an heroic rescue.

‘Keep your eyes open; you never know what you might see,’ says Danny’s mum as he sets off. This could be said to the reader of any Anthony Browne picture book, full, as they are, of surprises hidden in the illustrations. The allusions are more subtle in this book and it is Danny and his dog who are the focus. The rich illustrations perfectly convey the atmosphere of the out-of-season British seaside and create a familiar mood for Danny’s walk. The layered greys, blues, browns and greens of the sea and sky change as the tone of the story develops. The drama, when it happens, is simple and quickly resolved but not without tension. The reader is left with a warm sense of Danny’s affection for his dog and his brother and of the bonding camaraderie born of adult-free childhood adventure.

Younger children will enjoy having the story read aloud to them and spending time exploring the illustrations. The pebbles in the endpapers will intrigue the reader and time could be spent finding faces and shapes with a class. Doing it with real pebbles will become unavoidable. The images of the beach could be used to inspire investigation into ways of showing water in art using colour, line and different media. Older children could also look at how the changes in colours can be used to represent different feelings.

Danny and Scratch find interest and adventure in an ordinary, familiar place. What might you find if you keep your eyes open as you wander in your local area?