What’s That In Dog Years?

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

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What’s That In Dog Years? 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.

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 that he and Gizmo 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 that we start to see that there’s a mysterious back story in George’s life that has left him suffering from anxiety and panic attacks. The story 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.  We are shown what life is like for Gizmo, George and family through with diary-like entries, written from Gizmo’s point of view. It is a lovely technique and brings to life what a special little dog he is.

If this sounds quite serious and heavy, then yes it is, but the joy and success of this book is the humorous tone. What’s That In Dog Years? 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.