My rating: 5 of 5 stars
As I read ‘Dog Ears’ I became increasingly aware of how Blytonian it felt to me. And not Enid Blyton at her worst, but rather Enid Blyton at her best – stories of children being children and trying to exist in a world that adults had shaped for them. ‘Dog Ears’ for me, reads like a warm-hearted, true, honest and contemporary Blyton and I think (I hope) that this is a space that Booth will revel in and continue to make her own.
‘Dog Ears’ is written from the perspective of Anna who spends the book in a conversation with Timmy her golden retriever. He is the only thing that listens to her and, as a result of this, he hears the truth about her world. And the truth is this: Anna is struggling. Her mother’s attention is on her new younger brother Jack, her father is away for work, and Anna’s gran is being a bit scary and trying to help Anna help the family but really not helping out at all. Anna’s getting forgotten in the middle. There’s nobody to wash her uniform, nobody to help her with her homework, and nobody to help her get the right ingredients together for food tech. Things, as you may imagine, cannot continue the way they are. Anna’s caring for everybody but nobody’s caring for Anna.
Booth’s writing is very, very genuine. She sort of puts ‘Dog Ears’ into a space where it’s not okay for this sort of thing to be happening but you can see why it does and – maybe more importantly – you can understand the way that people act how they do. I can’t think of many other authors that can present the world with this sort of honesty. There’s also a very sensitively handled subplot about some of the other children in Anna’s class who, it turns out, are experiencing similar issues. What’s also worthwhile noting is that there’s a very well-handled afternote from Booth in the book and also several links and details to charities which support young carers. ‘Dog Ears’ is presented very very well and this last section of supportive resources is an excellent touch on both the part of Booth and of Catnip, the publishers.
I like ‘Dog Ears’. I like it a lot. I like the genuine nature of it and the way it’s never horribly didactic. I like Booth’s warmth and love in her writing; the genuine curve of a sentence that just captures children’s speech and the funny little asides that, even in a very serious book, are full of humour. I like that this book exists. I like that a lot. There’s such a space for books like this and I would like more please, thank you.