Review Blog

Jan 14 2008

Paddy the wanderer: the true story of the dog who captured the heart of a city by Dianne Haworth

cover image

HarperCollins, 2007
(Age 11-14) The sub title says it all, this is the story of a dog. But not just any dog - Paddy wandered the wharves of Wellington, New Zealand for about ten years, loved by all who called him friend. At first he was a stray, but then he hung about the wharves so much that the wharfees grew attached to him, giving him a place to sleep, feeding him and giving him a name. He followed men onto the ships and traveled from Wellington to Auckland and back, sometimes around the islands and sometimes to Australia, but all the time, being watched out for and fed. He was so well known in Wellington that the taxi drivers clubbed together to pay his registration.

This is more than the story of the dog, Paddy. Behind the story is the history of New Zealand's wharves, with its down turn during the Depression years, its place in New Zealand's history of the unions and their part in keeping men in work. The setting tells us of the co-operation between the men who had little money and few prospects in a time when few had anything to be optimistic about.

Haworth has researched the story behind the memorial built on the Wellington wharves, filling out the snippets gained form the newspapers of the time, retelling stories told to her and imagining conversations between the people who cared for the dog. In this way she has built up the story about Paddy, partly told in fiction terms, but based on fact. It is sure to please students in middle school looking for a real book about animals that is easy to read and absorb. A glossary of terms, and some historical details, placed at the end of the book, complete this fascinating story.
Fran Knight

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