From the Publisher
“Intrepid 9-year-olds Anna and Suzanne tackle their latest pet challenge with customary ingenuity, elaborate plans and lists, and allies old (Mr. Tucker and Mrs. Rotherham) and young (Anna’s cookie-loving brother, Tom)…. Davies doesn’t sugarcoat harsh realities; family financial constraints, mendacious parents and intimations of mortality—animal and human—lurk amid the hilarity, lending understated pathos to the proceedings. Shaw’s quirky art continues to charm (Miss Matheson’s snappy dog is a treat). Characteristically funny, this concludes a British series that has been a breath of fresh middle-grade air.”
"Readers who enjoy Jackie French's chapter books about wacky families will find this British story similarly accessible and delightful."
Intrepid 9-year-olds Anna and Suzanne tackle their latest pet challenge with customary ingenuity, elaborate plans and lists, and allies old (Mr. Tucker and Mrs. Rotherham) and young (Anna's cookie-loving brother, Tom). Having lobbied her parents for a new dog ever since they sent Barney to a farm where "he's much better off," Suzanne's thrilled to inherit Aunt Deidra's Beatrice, an ancient, smelly, incontinent Newfoundland who remains stubbornly inert until Anna crawls under Beatrice and heaves upward while Suzanne tugs her leash to get her moving. Anna's reluctance to lie under Beatrice each day, inhaling her rich aroma, is forgiven when she makes a discovery: Beatrice is depressed! To boost her spirits, the girls bathe her in Suzanne's baby brother's bath (his diapers come in handy). Anna contributes her dad's electric toothbrush and her mom's perfume. Elderly neighbors pitch in (Mrs. Rotherham's underpants play a role). Then a huge vet bill with the promise of more to come has Suzanne's parents murmuring that Beatrice would be better off elsewhere. Not if the ever-resourceful duo can help it! Davies doesn't sugarcoat harsh realities; family financial constraints, mendacious parents and intimations of mortality--animal and human--lurk amid the hilarity, lending understated pathos to the proceedings. Shaw's quirky art continues to charm (Miss Matheson's snappy dog is a treat). Characteristically funny, this concludes a British series that has been a breath of fresh middle-grade air. (Fiction. 8-12)
Children's Literature - Laura Backman
Suzanne's dad is a shouter. Anna lives next door, and she can hear him through the walls. He is not happy that Great-Great-Aunt Deidra left her dog to them in her will. Soon, lazy, smelly, depressed Beatrice the Newfoundland is delivered to their house. She refuses to play and any attempts to train her are unsuccessful. The demands of caring for the dog and providing the necessary exercise for it put a strain on Suzanne and Anna's relationship. Can Suzanne and her friend Anna change Beatrice? Nine-year-old Anna's narrationwith cut-out dictionary definitions, lists of wishes, notes about pros and cons, and secret plansis humorous, but it does not hold up to the standards of the three previous titles in the series. The basic storyline is fun, but the pace is too slow and the book too long. The author is the winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize for her debut novel. This title would make a great read-aloud for classrooms. Part of the "Great Critter Capers" series. Reviewer: Laura Backman
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—Nine-year-old Anna and Suzanne are best friends. When Suzanne's Great-Aunt Deidra leaves Suzanne's mother a dog in her will, both girls are excited. When the Newfoundland arrives, she is old, smelly, and depressed. Suzanne and Anna try everything to make Beatrice more appealing, putting her in diapers, brushing her teeth, and bathing and perfuming her, but nothing works. Bad goes to worse when she accidentally catches Misty, a small, yappy dog, in her mouth. Misty's owner, a cantankerous old lady, threatens to have the animal put down. When Suzanne's parents agree, the girls and Anna's five-year-old brother decide to hide Beatrice from everyone. Humorous instances occur throughout the story, yet not enough to carry the insubstantial plot or to appeal to a wide range of readers. Davies uses side boxes to define more-difficult words such as "disaster" and "guillotine," yet she continually uses the grammatical disaster "me and Suzanne," to the point of nails-on-a-chalkboard annoyance. Beatrice redeems herself at the close of the story, and cartoonlike black-ink illustrations offer interest, but not enough to save this unimaginative plot.—D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH
Read an Excerpt
The Great Dog Disaster
This is a story about my friend Suzanne, and her dog, and me, and Tom, and the Great Dog Disaster. Most of the time, when people say, “Oh, it’s a disaster!” it probably isn’t. Like when Dad’s watching soccer, and they’re up one to zero, and the whistle’s going to go, and the keeper gets an own goal.Or when Mom’s been to the shops, and put the bags in the trunk, and slammed it shut, and locked the car keys inside it. Or when it’s Mrs. Constantine’s Sunday School Concert, and Emma Hendry starts her solo, and her hair gets set on fire by Graham Roberts’s Christingle candle. Those things might be bad (especially for Emma Hendry, because her hair had never been cut before and she had to have a bob), but they aren’t actual disasters. Because I looked “disaster” up in my dictionary, and this is what it said:
disaster [di-zas-ter] noun a calamitous event, occurring suddenly and causing great harm or death
The Great Dog Disaster was an Actual Disaster though. It got on the news, and in the paper, and me and Tom and Suzanne had our photos taken and everything.
Tom is my brother. He’s five. He’s four years younger than me. I’m nine. My name is Anna. I’ve got another brother and a sister too, but they’re not in this story because they’re older than me and Tom and they don’t really care about dogs, and disasters, and things that me and Suzanne do. Anyway, even though lots of people have heard about the Great Dog Disaster, it’s only me who knows exactly what happened. Because there are some things about it that I have never told anyone. And I’m going to put those in this story as well. And when it’s finished, I’ll put my notebook in the shed, on the shelf, where no one will see it, behind the worms, and the wasp trap, and the piccalilli jar that’s got all Suzanne’s stitches in it.