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

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Review: Mr Walker Braves the Night; Mr Walker and the Perfect Mess

Mr Walker Braves the Night is the fourth book in this delightful series inspired by the real-life Guide Dog Ambassador, Mr Walker, whose home is the Park Hyatt Melbourne.

Life is a sensory experience for Mr Walker. He loves walks. They offer up different smells, sights and opportunities for a chase. He dreams of walks and chasing rabbits, although he has never encountered a rabbit in his life.

Halloween is drawing near. Mrs Reeves is looking forward to her sister coming to visit with her eleven year old son Lawrence. 

Sophie and Amanda want to go on their first trick or treat. The girls demand a scary story from their dad. But it is Mr Walker that has bad dreams that night.

Lawrence arrives with a bored expression on his face. He’s rude and definitely not what the girls expected. Even Mr Walker senses trouble afoot.

Elvis, in charge of the laundry department, suggests trolley-racing to liven things up. They have a great time! Omid challenges them to a game demanding stealth, silence and invisibility. Then, before they know it, it is evening.

Chef Remy and Elvis hollow out pumpkins and shape them into jack-o’-lanterns. To add to the atmosphere, Elvis takes the three children through the hotel’s secret and spooky passageways, while he recalls a ghost story that scares Mr Walker more than the children.

What is that noise that Lawrence and Mr Walker hear at night? Can it be ghosts? Why does Mr Reeves tell them to stay away from the nineteenth floor? When the girls hear it too, they all set out together to discover the scary source.

Again entertained by the intelligent, lovable, always helpful hotel Labrador, Mr Walker, the Park Hyatt’s Ambassador role includes lookout when called for. He is also a useful instrument of diversion when needed. Mr Walker and the Perfect Mess is the fifth book in the series.  

The Reeves household prepares for Christmas with a new advent calendar and a humorous made-up rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas based on Mr Walker’s favourite thing - food!

It is the groundskeeper Josephine’s last Christmas at the Park Hyatt. Her father is retiring and she is taking over the farm. So it is to be a special festive celebration and send-off combined.

This isn’t the only special event on a program filled till well into January. The Guide Dogs fundraiser is keeping them busy but the family is determined to find the right gift for Josephine.
Mr Walker comes up with a brilliant idea. He uses his extensive communication skills to convey it to the humans.

Sophie and Amanda get on with making paper chains and decorations to hang on the tree, plus something special for Josephine. But a heatwave, followed by a power cut and the imminent arrival of the new groundskeeper, has the staff at the Park Hyatt in high speed mode. Luckily, they are always up for a challenge, especially when a storm breaks out as well and adds to the mess!

Can the girls, Mr Walker and the unflappable staff, succeed in making Josephine’s last days at the Park Hyatt memorable ones?

Delicate fine line black and white images by Sara Acton decorate the pages and complement the simple entertaining text.

Designed for independent readers, Jess Black’s delightful and humour-filled series steals hearts, especially those of dog lovers. It carries positive messages on problem-solving, imagination, patience and alternate thinking, while Mr Walker’s accidents always transform into happy outcomes.

At the end of each book, there is a list of all the characters under Friends of Mr Walker. This is followed by a page on the real Mr Walker, one on About Guide Dogs in Australia, and another about the author and illustrator.

Title: Mr Walker Braves the Night; Mr Walker and the Perfect Mess
Author: Jess Black
Illustrator: Sarah Acton
Publisher: Penguin, $14.99, $14.99
Publication Date: August 2019
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780143793106; 9780143793113
For ages: 6 - 8
Type: Junior Fiction