Review Blog

Jul 03 2019

Joey and Riley by Mandy Foot

cover image

Hachette, 2019. ISBN: 9780734419217.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Dogs, Family life, Rural life, Grandparents, City. When Joey must move to the city with his mother from his grandfather's farm, he is devastated. He knows that Mum must find work, times are tough and the farm must be left behind. But Joey must also leave behind his dog, Riley, his best friend, the one he does everything with. They hunt mammoths, ride a rocket ship to the top of the hill, do their ABC's together with distance education. Each day holds a different treat for the pair until the day Mum announces that they are moving to the city. And Riley cannot come. Joey is inconsolable until his grandfather tells him that he will write everyday telling Joey what Riley is up to.
So begins a series of letters telling Joey what Riley is doing on the farm. These delightful slices of farm life will enthral the mainly urban audience, entranced with the images of Riley drawn over a sliver of the letters Joey receives. Each double page illustrates Joey in the city, contrasting his city life with the of Riley back on the farm. Children will love looking at the differences the lives these two friends now lead, to be brought abruptly to an end when Grandfather must tell Joey that Riley has disappeared after a frightening storm. A lovely ending will have all readers sighing with relief as the two find their way to get back together.
This is a charming story of the relationship between a boy and his dog, sure to please all readers who will scan the wonderful illustrations to see the sort of life led on farm. I was entranced with Foot's illustrations of rural life and the pages comparing the life of the dog on the farm with that of the boy in the city through evocative letters and soft edged illustrations, all revealing the emotional ties between a boy and his dog.
Fran Knight

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