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

Tuesday 28 January 2020

Review: Evie and Pog: Book #1 Take Off & Book #2 Puppy Playtime

Evie and Pog. Two very best friends. A girl and a dog.

Evie and Pog Take Off! introduces this zany series about six-year-old Evie and her two-year-old pug named Pog. They live together in a tree house – a silver ash that stands alongside Granny Gladys’ huge old house. How to enter is left to the individual. The exit is via a slide. An open plan design with labelled areas, invites us into their life together.

Evie is unique. Lovable, active, interesting and peculiar, she is a child that loves to play and explore. Although she trips constantly (there are always positive outcomes though) and uses her cymbals to get people’s attention, this reflects her outgoing nature. She never takes anything seriously. With her funny doggie habits, Evie leads the line of this varied cast of characters.

Pog is also unique; and refined. He loves drinking tea, reading the newspaper and eating vegetables. He cooks for himself and Evie.

Granny Gladys loves knitting, baking, books, and cake, as does Evie. But, where her granddaughter loves daisy-spot grass, Granny hates it. And, she is obsessed with cleaning, her dust buster, and Evie’s scissors.

Others appearing in this book are Noah and Mr Pooch who own the Puppy School, and Miss Footlights, Evie’s teacher.

This series can be read in any order. There are three stories in each. All promise surprise, fun, incredible and bizarre happenings.

In Book 1 Take-Off, a series of unfortunate and clumsy events see Pog blamed and sent to Puppy School. But he is not one to sit, beg and speak. But Evie is. The results are unexpected and celebrated.

Pog is in the school play. He hoped to be an owl but ends up a fairy. Evie is the Butterfly Queen. Granny has knitted all the stunning costumes. Unexpected rain soaks everything. Mayhem and chaos is supported by sneezes, mix-ups, Noah as a rock, tangles of wool, loose ends and scissors’ snipping. The play is a success.

To raise money for the Puppy School, plans for a cupcake stall go ahead. But a mix-up in the cupcakes and Granny’s obsession with her dust buster cause pandemonium. Then Evie’s purse with the money goes missing. Who is the culprit?

In Book 2 Evie and Pog Puppy Playtime, the tree house is freezing inside. Renovations are needed. Plans are drawn up. Noah is called upon to help. Jobs are allocated. Granny and Evie start knitting. (They are very fast knitters!)

Noah needs socks to wear but he wants to knit them. They end up as holes and loopy strings. Granny pulls out the scissors to tidy up his mess. It all turns into a game, with cymbals clashing, giggles, and floor rolls and they become tangled in a mesh of wool. Pog must snip to free them. Mishap and mayhem rules again!

A knit-a-thon begins. Can the group knit the necessary coverings and rugs to keep out the cold?

The word of the day for Evie’s class is ‘contraption’. Granny is invited to talk about her bike and the parts that make it a contraption.

It is hard convincing the children. Trips and flips interfere with the presentation. Miss Footlights suggests a recess.

Pog is making the tea. Granny’s cake wrapped in a towel is being put out. In an instant, a swooping magpie snatches it and heads to the top of a tree. The children draw on their word of the day, to create a contraption to recover the cake. Will their word work? What role can Granny’s balls of wool and scissors possibly have in this recovery?

Evie and Pog are playing with streamers in the park. Granny has a picnic basket and her knitting equipment. (She is never without it.)

Noah arrives with his two sausage dogs. Add them to a spinning roundabout, a knitted hammock, a hole in the sandpit, and finger knitting and imagine what you get! Granny’s dust buster and scissors are ever present. So is her boundless imagination. Things always fall into place after a good snip!

The hilarity and craziness of this fantastic series will appeal to a wide range of readers. Evie’s attitude to problem-solving inspires and encourages alternate thinking with her optimistic and never-give-up energy. These books represent the freedom, joy, and imagination found in play, and celebrates the difference in every child’s character.

The layout and design is eye-catching. Tania McCartney’s delightful and expressive illustrations add zing to the imaginative text, which is used creatively. Bold words appear in sentences, while others form patterns to emphasise the actions of the characters.

The audio book (below) is out April, and the third book in the series, Evie and Pog Party Perfect, will be available in May.

Title: Evie and Pog Take Off! Evie and Pog Puppy Playtime
Author/Illustrator: Tania McCartney
Publisher: Harper Collins (Angus & Robertson), $12.99
Publication Date: 20 January 2020
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781460757932 (Take Off!) 9781460757949 (Puppy Playtime)
For ages: 5 - 8
Type: Junior Fiction Younger