A young boy, who has lost his voice, is determined to win the $1,000 prize money in a running competition. He hopes the money will mean his mum doesn’t have to earn money by picking oranges anymore and may be also able to buy a new bed. His old wooden bed broke and they used it for firewood to keep warm. But the boy’s plans go astray. As he leaves home early on the morning of the competition he witnesses a car veering off the slippery road and soon the boy and a dog find themselves left in the forest on their own. Now they must rely on each other to find their way out.
Being familiar with Paul Jennings’s stories for young readers, I was intrigued to read A Different Dog aimed at slightly older readers. I really enjoyed the story and thought that younger readers could enjoy it at face value whereas the older readers would be able to explore the varied themes including bullying, family, survival and dogs.
This is a lovely, ultimately positive story and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it with my 12 year old for whom it was perfectly pitched and who was duly impressed.