Fizz and the police dog tryouts by Lesley Gibbes
Ill. by Stephen Michael King. Allen and Unwin, 2016. ISBN
(Age: 7+) Highly recommended. Dogs. Police. Employment. A laugh out loud story of Fizz, desperate to be a police dog, and help with the running down and capture of criminals, but hampered by his breed. He is a fluffy little lap dog, destined like his parents and siblings to be a show dog or a companion dog, not a working dog like the bigger dogs, Rottweilers and German Shepherds. He is booked in to see Ms Trunchon from the Dog Employment Agency and is determined not to go.
His friend, Tom suggests he go along to the police dog tryouts the next day, so determined and bold, he goes. He is astonished to find that many dogs have lined up at the gates, and all very different from him. There are German Shepherds and Rottweilers, Bulldogs and Labradors, all large and powerful and some full of bravado.
One German Shepherd, Amadeus, the son of a police dog, bullies other dogs around him to ensure that he wins the competitions.
Three tests are given to the dogs and as each fails the test, so they are told to go home. The tension is palpable and despite Amadeus and his entourage baiting Fizz, calling him names and belittling him, he carries on. Readers will be surprised that he does not win the main competition but relieved when he is taken along to be a different sort of police dog, one where his skills can be put to better use.
This is a lovely opener to a new series about Fizz, leading the reader into the scenario where he is a police dog, working with the police to sniff out crimes and criminals. The series has a lot which will endear it to a readership as it promotes standing up for oneself, working for a goal that everyone says is beyond you and standing up to bullying. All the elements are there for a successful series of books, and Fizz is a delightful character with many other minor characters just as endearing. King's lovely illustrations add to the humour of the tale, as each dog is given their own characteristics, and Sergeant Stern is a treat. King obviously enjoyed adding to the humour of the book through his illustrations and they suit the story admirably.
It's great to see an early chapter book series with a contents page and short, easy to read chapters, just right for newly arrived readers.