The Way of Dog by Zana Fraillon
Updated: May 12, 2022
This stunning verse novel for middlegrade readers is such a joy to read - lyrical, moving and unique. The story is told from the perspective of Scruffity, a young pup who yearns to escape the cruelty of the puppy farm where he has been abandoned. He finds some comfort in the bond he forms with his 'ManPup,' who is also struggling with loneliness and rejection. When the two manage to escape the puppy farm together, things start looking up as Scruffity eagerly explores the world around him. But Scruffity quickly realises it's not so easy on the outside either, with many obstacles to overcome. Will he ever find the home that he yearns for?
Make sure you have a box of tissues handy when you read this one - it might just break your heart a little. This story deals with issues of loss, cruelty and abandonment - but it also shines with hope, courage and kindness.
Scruffity's voice is so compelling, shining a light on the complexities of the human world in a unique and lyrical way. His voice cleverly engages all the senses as he sniffs and schnuffles his way through the world.
I love the careful use of language
- alliteration, rhyme, rhythm and clever wordplay ensuring this book would make a beautiful readaloud at home or in the classroom. The placement of words on the page is creative and meaningful and I just adored Scruffity's unique vocabulary (manpup, shoe-legs, schnuffle and paw-pad are such delightful words!)
Issues of domestic violence and the cruelty of puppy farms are handled with great care and sensitivity and are balanced out by the kindness of other animals and humans that Scruffity encounters throughout the story. Scruffity's relationship with CharlieMan is one of my favourites, as both seek strength and comfort from each other.
The black and white illustrations by Sean Buckingham are so moving, beautifully depicting both the darkness and the beauty of the world Scruffity inhabits.
This is a book that sings with vibrant language, and that has rushed its way towards the top of the middlegrade novels I've read so far this year.
I would recommend this book for 8-12 year olds.
We thank UQP Books for our review copy of this beautiful book. Opinions expressed are our own.
Published by UQP Books