‘Cheeky Dogs: To Lake Nash and Back’ is an illustrated memoir by deaf artist Dion Beasley, who has beautifully captured life in a remote Australian community through story and art. As well as being deaf, Dion has muscular dystrophy, so he zips around on his scooter to feed and play with the various dogs who inhabit the area. Dion’s poetic stories and recollections of growing up in a remote community are full of humour, playfulness and heartbreak.
We observe, through the interplay between images and words, Dion’s gently told stories of family, animals, dreams, and loss. The reader feels a sense of connectedness with Dion as we observe his strength, talent, and love of story. The unique and engaging illustrations are both exuberant and dark-edged. This alternation between light and dark is also reflected in Dion’s stories of his dreams. While he dreams of monsters in the darkness of night, in the daylight he dreams about capturing the light and warmth of the sun.
Threading through these stories, observations, and drawings, and linking them all together, is the theme of the importance of community. Dion expresses his love of being home with family in Lake Nash. Young readers might like to reflect on where they feel most at home, and how ‘home’ can mean different things to different people.
Young readers will be inspired and intrigued by these reflections of a way of life that is different to their own. This memoir shines a light on the possibility of achieving great things even when at times it may feel impossible. This message will ultimately be inspiring to the target audience of this book – as well as to adult readers.
Dion and Johanna have previously published two picture books together, ‘Too Many Cheeky Dogs,’ and ‘Go home Cheeky Animals!’ - which won the CBCA Book of the Year in 2017. ‘Cheeky Dogs: To Lake Nash and Back’ is their third book together.
Published by Allen & Unwin.
Shortlisted for the 2020 Prime Minister's Literary Awards.