The Way of Dog by Zana Fraillon, illustrated by Sean Buckingham

The Way of Dog by Zana Fraillon, illustrated by Sean Buckingham – at a glance

The School Reading Lists’ five word review: Animal, adventure, bravery, friendship, poetry.
Children’s book title: The Way of Dog.
Children’s author: Zana Fraillon.
Children’s illustrator: Sean Buckingham.
Genre: Verse novel.
Published by: Chicken House.
ISBN: 9781915026231.
Recommended for children aged: 8+.
First published: Paperback March 2023.
This children’s book is ideal for: KS2 and KS3 animal lovers.

The Way of Dog by Zana Fraillon

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Our review:

Scruffity the dog has a harsh start in life. He is born in a cage with a cold concrete floor, in a cruel puppy farm. Separated from his mother shortly after birth, he has only his litter mates for comfort. As one by one they are adopted or else befall a harsh fate at the hands of the awful GrowlMan, Scruffity finds himself alone and unloved. Even the spinning tricks taught to him by FatRat prove ineffective in catching the eye of potential adoptees and risk a permanent fate in the dreaded Dead-Dog Bin.

The Way of Dog by Zana Fraillon spread 1

The only light in Scruffity’s life is GrowlMan’s stepson who is a reluctant participant in the puppy business, caring for the dogs as best he can and sneaking Scruffity out for playtime in the fields. Scruffity soon comes to adore his Manpup and one night the two take their chance for freedom and escape to search for a better way of life.

So come scramper
come trample
come schnuffle about
come discover this world
from a dog’s point of snout.
Are you coming? Are you? Are you?

Scruffity is overwhelmed by all the new sights and smells that the countryside offers, chasing the SkySingers and trying to teach Manpup the ways of the dog – to follow your snout, howl to heal and the perfect way to throw a ball. Manpup has more practical concerns however and the two resort to begging to earn money to eat as they slowly make their way across the countryside, bound for an aunt’s house by the sea.

Love is
sitting with MyManpup
on the Grass in the Sun.

Love is
heads together
eyes closed
schnuffling deep.

Love is
a kind of fierce
that aches.

Throughout their travels, the pair remain ever watchful for the dreaded Ranger who could take Scruffity to the pound. It’s a different kind of disaster that strikes however when Manpup is involved in a horrific road accident and Scruffity is left all alone.

Determined to be reunited with the only human who has ever showed him kindness, Scruffity sets off on an epic adventure, helping other lost souls along the way in his long search for Manpup and a place to finally call home.

The Way of Dog by Zana Fraillon spread 3

The Way of Dog is an engrossing novel in verse, told from the perspective of Scruffity himself. Having a dog narrator could be gimmicky, however the inspired word play gives the character a unique voice and even non-dog lovers will be charmed by Scruffity’s bravery and loyalty to his Manpup.

Although harrowing at times, especially in terms of the casual cruelty humans display to both animals and each other, The Way of Dog is an absorbing read, with the beautiful illustrations completing the very visual storytelling. The ending is sure to bring a tear to the eye of every animal lover and is reminiscent of the classic story The Incredible Journey.

The Way of Dog is a touching, beautifully told tale of friendship, loyalty and finding your true home. It will appeal to fans of Eva Ibbotson’s One Dog and His Boy and C.C. Harrington’s Wild Oak.

Many thanks to Chicken House Books  for the review copy.

If you like The Way of Dog by Zana Fraillon you might also like: our reviews of Corey’s Rock by Sita Brahmachari, Wildoak by C.C. Harrington, The Boy Lost in the Maze by Joseph Coelho, The Silver Chain, written and illustrated by Jion Sheibani, By Ash, Oak and Thorn by Melissa Harrison and The Time Traveller and the Tiger by Tania Unsworth.

Browse our list of books for KS2

About Melanie Dillon

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Melanie has a Master’s degree in Information and Library Management; a Post Graduate Certificate in Children’s Literature focusing on the Reading Agency’s Reading Well scheme & LGBT YA fiction, and extensive experience working in school and public libraries. Linkedin | Reviews by Melanie Dillon