'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 30 August 2019

Review: When Billy Was A Dog

Young Billy loves dogs. He plays daily with the neighbour’s dog Fluff. But he wants one of his own. 

Dad talks to him about the responsibilities of dog ownership but doesn’t agree to get one for Billy, even after the boy assures him he would do all those things, even clean-up the dog’s mess.

‘Maybe when you’re older,’ his dad says.

Next day the strangest thing happened. 

Billy curled up on his parents’ bed and barked. When asked a question Billy answered with a bark. He dangled his tongue and held his hands in paw position.

Things got worse. Billy ate his food from a bowl on the floor, and greeted the neighbour’s dog with a bark copying Fluff’s actions. He chased his tail, crawled on his hands and knees, sniffed at fence posts and played with a stick in his mouth.

Whatever could be done for Billy who had become a dog?

This is a delightful story about the inventiveness and gentle manipulation of children when they want to get their way with adults.

While it informs children that pets come with great responsibility of care, it also shows that there is more than one way for children to get their point across.

Karen Blair’s outstanding illustrations are emotive, powerful and to the point on every page. The characters are believable. The pensive look on Billy’s face as he looks through the window onto the street at the dogs getting their evening walk with their owners is priceless.

Gorgeous end pages depict various breeds of dogs in frames at the front, and at the back, an enlarged frame shows Billy cuddling a dog with other framed dogs scattered around. But whose dog is Billy holding?

Title: When Billy was a Dog
Author: Kirsty Murray
Illustrator: Karen Blair
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, $24.99
Publication Date: 3 June 2019
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781760631826
For ages: 5+
Type: Picture Book