Available in bookstores now.
I wish I’d been able to meet you while you were alive. I bet you had some good stories to tell, and could have taught me a thing or two about persistence and humour. I don’t know if you got to see the republication of your book before you died. You know the one, Dashing Dog, about the snobby family and their “curlicued” but chaotic dog that they parade down the beach. It comes with a CD of you reading the story.
Maybe as my son gets older he’ll find that interesting, but at the moment he’s all about the book. “Dog! Dog!” he says and climbs into my lap. It’s currently his most loved book and mine too. I hope you had a hand in Bixley doing the re-illustrations. I have to say, they’re incredible. My favourite is the one of Dashing Dog stuck in the briar rose: the family concerned with their dog’s ruined coat, the sea behind, and baby Betty heading toward the jetty. My son’s favourite picture is when Dashing Dog leaps into the sea to save Betty (“Dog!”). I’ve tried to explain the moral of the story, about valuing people for how they act rather than how they look, but he’s only two so I should probably save the social and feminist critique for when he’s older.
Did I tell you about the time I was sent the collected works of C. K. Stead to review? I wouldn’t say I refused, I did write something in the end, but I kept on wondering how a young writer like myself could comment on an iconic writer such as Stead without looking like a bit of an idiot. I felt the same receiving your book. Let’s just say you were – are – one of the biggest personalities in New Zealand literature. I know you’ve won a bunch of awards, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Your books ignite the imaginations of children. They’re funny, magical, and clever. They’re quirky and timeless. A bit like you were, I’m sure. Thanks for making parenting a bit easier.
Reviewed by Sarah Jane Barnett
Written by Margaret Mahy, illustrations by Donovan Bixley
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand