Dandy & Dazza by Mike Dumbleton. Illus. by Brett Curzon

cover image

The names of the two dogs say it all: Dandy is a dandy, has only the best food, wears clothes to the park, wins trophies and is often found sleeping on the lounge, while Dazza is a mess of a dog: loud and boisterous, naughty, dirty and inquisitive. The two dogs could not be more different. The opening pages reflect these differences. On one side of the page is Dandy: refined, only eating the best food, obedient and well trained and coming to the park for a wait and see, meeting Dazza: a rough and tumble sort of dog, dashing about, going onto the places that say ‘keep off’, with a host of flies buzzing around his head.

Dumbleton inspires with his choice of words describing the two animals, and I can imagine children not only rolling the words around their mouths, repeating them as they hear them, trying them out, working out what they mean, but also acting them out, being the dogs - Dazza straining at the leash, bouncing and pouncing, while more sedate Dandy sits and watches, until the two come together, having the best rough and tumble time in the park.

They squirt and sprinkle on every post and tree they find, ignoring the sign which asks that only well behaved dogs are welcome in this park, they simply go crazy.

This wonderful tale, full of vim and vigour, will be a treat to read aloud, with children joining in, imagining that they are the dogs, learning that even though they are very different, they are the best of friends.

The vibrant illustrations match the mood of the book, with an excited Dazza shaking muddy dirt all over the place, while quieter Dandy simply watches, until he becomes part of the mayhem Dazza causes. Both animals are shown in such a way that their personalities are immediately apparent. Dandy sitting up so straight, a smell under his nose, whereas Dazza is rummaging through an overload bin, having the time of his life. The detail on every page adds another level of humour, and I love the buzzing endpapers and so will the kids.

This is a wonderfully inviting treatise on difference and coming together, friendship and best of all - fun.

Themes: Friendship, Difference, Dogs, Behaviour.

Fran Knight