Review Blog

Sep 22 2016

Blue the builder's dog by Jen Storer

cover image

Ill. by Andrew Joyner. Penguin, 2016. ISBN 9780670077809
Blue is a builder's dog - an ordinary builder's dog that can be found on almost any building site in this country. He rides in the ute to work, guards the tools, greets the subbies and signs the concrete slabs. (Oops!) He samples sausage rolls at smoko, cleans up the lunchtime pies and pasties and does all the things a builder's dog is supposed to do. He is mates with the whole team.
But Blue does not have a hard hat, he is not allowed up high (even though he liked to go there) and the Big Boss does not take his advice. He is also not allowed to sleep in the house with the builder. He is consigned to the shed - which is NO place for a Working Dog of his stature and importance - and this makes him cranky. All he wants is his own kennel - not even a flash one, just one with a hidey-hole for old bones, a swinging door with his name and maybe a periscope. So he decides to build his own and quits the building team. Instead of going to work, he stays home to build his own kennel. The result is not quite like the plan he had in his head and probably wouldn't meet the Big Boss's standards, but nevertheless it is a grand home worthy of a Working Dog. That night he snuggles in happily content and unconcerned that the builder has gone out. Until a huge storm comes...
Jen Storer and Andrew Joyner have created a funny but touching story that will appeal to readers of all ages. Everyone will recognise Blue (some may even know him) and empathise with his need to have a place of his own. They will laugh at his building skills but be sad as he huddles on the doormat in the rain waiting for the builder to come home. And they will delight in the ending which so clearly demonstrates how important it is to be part of a team. They might even like to try their hand at designing the perfect kennel for Blue and maybe even build it if you have a makerspace.
It is an uplifting story that needs to be read just for the fun of it with the perfect pictures emphasizing the quality of the text. Andrew Joyner has drawn the iconic Blue and captured the personalities and conditions on the building site with great detail and humour so well while Jen Storer has taken a situation that is played out across Australia everywhere every day and turned it into an engaging tale that is just delightful. One of those true picture books where the marriage between text and illustration is so synergistic that it touches something within and becomes a read-it-again-and-again favourite.
Barbara Braxton

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