Published by Walker Books, 2018.
I really enjoyed this tender story about the bond between a boy and his dog.
Oz, the puppy, has traumatic early experiences of humans. He is sold to a mean family who buy him as a Christmas present for their young son. When Oz doesn’t understand the tricks he’s expected to perform, the boy quickly loses patience with him. He’s rough with Oz, calls him names and treats him unkindly. Oz ends up being shut away in the utility room. He’s barely given enough food and water to survive and is eventually abandoned at a rubbish tip. He becomes silent; he has lost his bark.
Thankfully Oz is rescued by an animal shelter. This is where he and Patrick meet. As soon as Patrick sees Oz, he knows that he’s the dog he wants. He takes him home and a beautiful story of rehabilitation begins. Patrick shows Oz kindness and patience and, over time, Oz learns to trust a human again. Patrick comes from a musical family and music plays a key part in Oz’s recovery. The book explores the power of music to heal.
We get to see the story from both Oz and Patrick’s perspectives and I really liked this. The early chapters seen through a naive young puppy’s eyes are particularly effective and heartbreaking. This, however, isn’t just a one-sided relationship. Patrick also has problems and heartache of his own. Oz is determined to repay the love and help his boy.
The beautiful black and white pencil drawings which accompany the story are full of emotion. Oz is also the cutest dog you could imagine!
As a short chapter book that has been illustrated throughout it is perfect for newly independent readers. It would also lend itself very well to being read over the course of a week as a bedtime story shared between carer and child.
The Dog Who Lost His Bark is a beautiful story of friendship and healing. It handles difficult issues with sensitivity. It’s a celebration of friendship, music and family. I loved it!
Suitable for children aged 6+
Thank you to Walker Books for sending me this book to review. I reviewed the book as part of the blog tour for the Federation of Children’s Book Groups’ Children’s Book Award 2019. The book has been shortlisted in the Young Readers category. You can read my interview with Eoin Colfer and P.J. Lynch here. There are also details about how to vote for your favourite book here.