Review Blog

Mar 15 2011

Take me Home by Melissa Wareham

cover image

Random House, 2011.
(Ages 8 -12) I'm not sure who started it, perhaps it was the chocolate eyed Labrador in Marley and Me but all of sudden true-life animal stories - humorous, poignant and downright tragic seem to be high profile in bookshops and supermarkets. Being more than a little sceptical I decided Take me Home was bound to be another formulaic read in an overcrowded market. However, this turned out to be a little gem - well written with bags of humour and boundless appeal for animal lovers.
It starts with a girl called Melissa who most children (this one included!) can identify with. She's desperate for a dog, but her parents will not be persuaded and every birthday and Christmas turn out to be a disappointment. Ringing any bells yet? When she leaves school she bags a job as a kennel maid at Battersea Dog's Home. Starting at the bottom she eventually works her way up to the heady heights of Re-homing officer. This is a great read with fascinating snippets about Battersea's history and ethos, and some delightful shaggy dog stories. There's Tulip, the dog who escaped from her owner and jumped on a bus, and Boss, the dog who was thrown out of the family car after it was hijacked by thieves. Both ended up at Battersea. This book should be accompanied with a large box of tissues!
Photographs of Melissa at work and the dogs she's looked after give the book a pleasing authenticity. Animal lovers at my school are queuing up to borrow it and it seems to have wide appeal across all junior ages. It's a perfect hook and I've used it as an introduction to Michael Morpurgo (Cool and Born to Run) and to Andy Cope's Spydog series.
Claire Larson

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