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A Pack of Your Own

Authored by Maria Nilsson Thore (translated by Annie Prime)
Illustrated by Maria Nilsson Thore
Published by Pushkin Children's Books

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A Pack of Your Own: A lonely sausage dog gazes out of the window of his well-kept, some might say, genteel flat and wonders how it would feel to belong. From a safe distance, he observes the joy other dogs feel and reflects that whilst seeking companionship, he can’t help feeling uncomfortable around the other dogs in the local park. They are different from him; they run around on four legs, whereas he walks on two, ‘And worst of all – they sniff each other’s bottoms!’ He draws the conclusion that there must be something wrong with him. So, in a last-ditched attempt to fit in, he dons his dog collar (a symbol perhaps of being part of the crowd) and braves the park one more time.

This delightfully humorous story translated from the Swedish original, is appropriate for any KS1 classroom. Charming pencil drawings illustrate the text, and the only splashes of colour are the red collars the dogs wear and muted brown fur of the protagonist. Words are well chosen to create characterisation and there is amusing detail to be found in both word and image. The dogs, for instance, are expressively drawn and the décor of the dog’s flat humorously reflects his personality, for example his collection of ‘beautiful vintage sticks’ and the cushion embroidered with the word ‘sit’.

The story explores themes of friendship and acceptance, asking the reader to consider what happens when you don’t naturally connect with those you are expected to? Here the dog in question tries his best, copying what others do, but despite his best efforts, behaving in a way which is not natural for him ultimately results in failure. The reader is prompted to consider whether we should adapt our behaviour in order to become one of the pack and how we might learn to accept who we are. When a poodle knocks on his door, we see that perhaps it isn’t necessary to behave identically in order to be friends.