Review Blog

Apr 27 2018

Jehan and the quest of the lost dog by Rosanne Hawke

cover image

UQP, 2017. ISBN 9780702259609
Recommended. When the monsoon hits Pakistan earlier than usual, its devastation is particularly ferocious, causing villages to be swept away, crops and towns annihilated. Rosanne Hawke lived in Pakistan for ten years as an aid worker, often returning to the place she loves, and writing stories brimful of understanding and empathy. In Jehan and the Quest of the Lost Dog, a companion story to Kelsey and the Quest of the Porcelain Doll (2014), Jehan is a young boy who survives the flooding of his village, finding a tree to shelter in, pulling his string bed up behind him as a platform to lie on. When he can beat the monkeys to the mangoes in the tree, he can eat, but life is lonely especially remembering his family and where they might be. Into his world comes a small dog, and they salvage stuff from the water rushing by, the dog disappearing to tend to her pups. From his tree Jehan can see what is left, and amongst the rubbish that passes by is a man offering to take him with him to the city, telling him that no one has survived the flood. But when the dog returns he has a green ribbon tied to his collar, giving him hope. Another man takes him to a refugee camp, where Jehan finds the dog's owner, and together they search for their families.
Throughout the story we hear of Jehan's village, his life with his family, his mother's stories, his school life, what he wears and what he eats. Hawke delivers a background uncompromisingly authentic, as she tells of the effect the 2010 flood had on the whole state, the worst in living memory cutting a swathe thirty miles wide, destroying all in its path.
Jehan clings onto his life in the tree, determined to find his family, because that is what is most important and all readers will understand this as they read of this boy.
Throughout the story Hawke uses Urdu for some of the often used words, bed, dog and family names for example, and a glossary at the back of the book explains what they mean. Included too is a brief outline of the devastation of the 2010 flood to the country, a place already impoverished by years of terrorism.
Fran Knight

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