Reviews /

A Street Dog Named Pup

Authored by Gill Lewis
Illustrated by Gill Lewis, cover by Levi Pinfold
Published by David Fickling Books

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Published on 1st April

A Street Dog Named Pup is a story of the deep bond and love between a dog and his boy owner despite many dangerous escapades and harrowing adventures.

Pup is dumped and has to live by his wits on the street. He is found by Frenchi, taken to safety and accepted into the group of homeless dogs who manage to survive by scavenging and protecting their hiding place. These friends stick together through many scrapes: lack of food, trying to escape the Dog Snatchers, an infiltration by the rival gang, betrayal and power struggles.  Pup takes us on a journey, always in search of his boy, and we see the world through his eyes as he battles through capture, being sold and fighting for his life.

I read this in two sittings, which, being honest, as a non-dog person, surprised me. I was gripped by this story and enjoyed the format of Pup’s viewpoint interspersed with The Boy’s story. Gill Lewis has written powerful, gritty sequences where nothing is held back! The parts of the story involving dog fights are pretty gruesome and will have you on the edge of your seat. For this reason, I think that the book should be read to Upper Key Stage 2, thus giving the opportunity to stop and talk about what has happened in each particular part of Pup’s story. It deals with death in a matter of fact way and would be a good introduction to conversations about loss and bereavement.

There are some interesting character studies of the different dogs in the gang, and Gill Lewis has very effectively used the traits of different breeds to explain their behaviour; for example, Saffy (the Labrador) is gentle and mothering, whilst Merle (the border collie) constantly counts and checks that all the dogs are there. Rising through the story is the magnificent theme that animals and man have a bond and a connection. Despite all the dreadful things that happen, Pup bounces back and keeps believing. It is a story of resilience and loyalty.

Gill has illustrated her own writing for the first time with this book. Her drawings set the scene for each chapter and show how much she cares about the characters.  Every time I got to a new picture, I delighted in studying it and looking at all the details.

A Street Dog Named Pup is certainly written from the heart and will delight dog lovers and appeal to those who like an adventurous quest.