Sad, the dog by Sandy Fussell
Ill. by Tull Suwannakit. Walker Books, 2015. ISBN 9781921529641
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Pets, Dogs, Family, Home. A dog given to an older couple as a gift is looked after by them but never given a name. They feed him, wash him, scold him for barking or digging the garden, or tearing up the newspapers but do not name him. So he names himself. He calls himself Sad, because that is how he feels in this home where he is unwanted and unloved. One day the couple pack their belongings and move away leaving Sad behind. A new family arrives and the young boy sees the dog and is instantly excited. The family feeds him, they give him fresh water to drink and take him for a walk. He is given a soft warm bed on the back verandah and when he wakes, Jack is there with a treat. He does all the things he did with his previous family but now he is not scolded or left outside; he is loved, wanted and called by his new name, Lucky.
This is a treat of a story, one full of warmth and charm as the dog is at first not cared for and then finds someone who loves him. Along the way readers will see the difference between owning a dog and loving and caring for a dog, how a dog reacts to the care given it, of how an animal fits into the family. Children will love reading of Sad and marvel at his change of fortune, and be instantly mesmerised by the watercolour illustrations showing the changes in the dog's fortunes as he goes from being alone and dejected to being alive and happy. The endpapers reflect his status beautifully. This is a treat simply as a great story well told and illustrated, but a boon for teachers and parents wanting to discuss the care of a pet.