Monday, July 16, 2018

The Dog with Seven Names by Dianne Wolfer

It is so interesting when real life and the book you are reading coincide. On the weekend I attended the Top Dogs film Festival and at the same time I had been reading The Dog with Seven Names.

If you enjoy reading Historical Fiction then this is a perfect book especially if you are a dog lover. There were many aspects of the impact of World War II on Australia that I did not know about. Luckily this book does contain a timeline and set of facts on the final pages.  Dianne Wolfer explains her research process on her web site.

Dog arrives on the farm in October 1939. He is the runt of the litter but Elsie begs her dad and by Christmas she is allowed to keep Princess.  The pair spend two happy years together.  This is an important bonding time for Princess because she is destined to be separated from Elsie. Their friendship needs to be strong so that this bond is never broken even though Princess goes through many owners and, as the title suggests, many names.

One of the joyous moments in this story comes when the dog, now called Flynn, flies with Doc. He works for the Royal Flying Doctor Service and for me he was one of the heroes of this story.  This quote will give you a sense of the first 'person' narrative.

"Doc let me sit with him in the hole on top of Fox Moth, instead of in the cabin between the top and bottom wings. That was my favourite place. If I balanced carefully I could look over the side and let my ears flap in the breeze. As we soared into the sky, cool air blew across my nostrils and I shivered."

Here is a review with more plot details.  I would follow The Dog with Seven Names with A Dog's Life and Everything for a Dog both by Ann M Martin. To follow this historical time period you might also look for books by Michael Morpurgo such as War Horse.  For an Australian flavour look at My Australian Story series which includes The Bombing of Darwin. From the Our Australian Girl series look for the four titles about Pearlie. I would also recommend looking for other books in your school library by Dianne Wolfer such as Lighthouse Girl, Light Horse boy and In the Lamplight.  Lamont Books list The Dog with Seven Names as a secondary title but I think it will appeal to mature Grade 6 students.

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