… for this story is LOUD
it’s made to be growled
to be bellowed and roared to be
freed from your jaws to
travel Wind-wide and find those ears and
souls all waiting.
I adored this middle-grade verse novel, The way of dog, by Zana Fraillon. It’s told from the perspective of Scruffity, a dog born in a puppy farm. There are less than ideal conditions for Scruffity and his Manpup, the farm’s owner’s stepson. So both Scruffity and Manpup run away, hoping to find a new home with family by the beach. Along the way, Scruffity has all sorts of adventures and mishaps, and meets a few characters, both human and animal.
Because this story is told from Scruffity’s viewpoint, young readers will love his use of words – shoe-legs for humans, FlashingMetalBeasts for cars and Muncher for train. From the very beginning, Scruffity’s voice is strong and authentic. I felt like I had a much better understanding of our own dog, Cleo, after reading it!
And as you can see from the photo, Cleo clearly enjoyed the book as well!
Like all good verse novels, this one has lyrical language and rhythm which draw readers in. Readers 9-12 will find this book a page-turner, and it would be an excellent resource in the classroom. I’m thinking – lists of favourite words, poems about dogs, pictures about dogs, dog language, plus themes of belonging, home, safety, empathy, connection.
As Megan Daly and Alison Tait pointed out in their latest podcast, Your kid’s next read, it is important to know whether a dog story ends well. This one does. There’s certainly a few heartbreaking moments but – spoiler alert – Scruffity and his Manpup are reunited.