What’s That In Dog Years?

Authored by Ben Davis
Illustrated by Julia Christians
Published by Oxford University Press

This is a beautifully told story about a boy, George, and his relationship with his pet, Gizmo the dog.  Gizmo has been in George’s life since he was born and the story starts when George realises, after a trip to the vet, that Gizmo may not be around for much longer in his life.

In fact the story centres around George coming to terms  that Gizmo is nearing the end of his life and so writes up a wish list of everything Gizmo and him are going to do to make the most of the time they have left. These activities form the adventures that they both have throughout the book and bring different people into George’s life. Some are good, such as Lib, who helps George with his bucket list and some not so good, like the boys who pick on George in school. It’s through these events in the book that we start to see that there’s a mysterious event in George’s life that has left him with anxiety and suffering panic attacks, which unfolds and is revealed by the end of the book and how George is also struggling with the separation of his parents, his dad leaving and finding a new girlfriend.  This also emerges through the eyes of Gizmo, with diary-like entries, throughout the book by Gizmo, on what life is like for him with George and family. This is a lovely technique and really brings to life even more what a special little dog he is with a lovely character.

If this sounds quite serious and heavy, then yes it is, but the joy and success of this book is the way in which it is written with such humour. So it really is a very heartfelt story that balances fun and laughter alongside sadness. It is an emotional read but one that I couldn’t put down and highly recommend, whether you have a dog or not. I can guarantee you will love George and Gizmo from the very first chapter.