The heart-warming tale of a small Pekingese and a very large dog called Roo.
Roo is big. He is goofy. He is clumsy. And all he wants is a friend. But the other dogs are afraid of him, which makes Roo sad. Then he is befriended by Vladimir the Pekingese - the best friend in the whole world. It takes a big storm and a washed-out bridge for Roo to prove his worth and become a much-loved town hero.
This is a heart-warming tale about friendship and finding a place in the world. Pet lovers will adore the playful cast of canine characters and... a lazy duck!
I really like the dedication at the front of this book. It addresses all those dogs (and children) who don't quite fit in with society's expectations and might need some encouragement to just be themselves. The first page reinforces this - it shows a happy Roo enjoying playing a game he is not especially good at. Allowing children (and dogs!) to take pleasure in what they are doing and not to worry too much about their expertise is so important. Roo's problem is that he is quite big and rather clumsy, and finds it hard to make friends. But his heart is in the right place!
Miss Four and Mr Three immediately sympathised with poor Roo because their Nana has a dog which is very similar. The children know exactly what it is like to get squished by a large dog, or swept over by a too enthusiastic tail. But they also know that, despite being clumsy, Nana's dog is a friendly giant who just loves to be cuddled and patted - exactly as Roo does.
Mr Three loved the bright illustrations and was able to explain exactly what was happening in each picture. His favourite part was when Roo carried the lazy duck across the stream. Miss Four thought it was very kind of Roo to set aside his distress when the other dogs were not nice to him and to ferry them across the water. Both children enjoyed identifying the other animals that Roo had rescued; he had been very busy.
The children's mother was impressed by the author's choice of words. which she felt were perfect for a pre-schooler. Although the whole was simple enough for a young reader to follow, there were some longer and more complex words introduced in context which the children could follow. Both Miss Four and Mr Three thoroughly enjoyed the story and were delighted that Roo finally found a friend in Vladimir the Pekingese. It was Vladimir who helped the other animals to catch a ride through the storm water on Roo's back; when they were all standing around panicking on the shore, Vladimir jumped on to his friend's back and showed them all how safe it was.
The book concludes with Roo being recognised as a hero by everyone, thanks to Vladimir, and being recognised as a huge success. It was interesting to see the different ethnic communities of New Zealand represented on the final pages as Roo's kindness was being celebrated. I thought this was a positive way to present another dimension of difference which can be an issue in society, and this could provide yet another talking point for the young reader.
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