'Dog Lost' by Ingrid Lee is a tale (yes, I do know how to spell it) of a dog called Cash and her owner, 12 year old Mackenzie. It is aimed at children in the 10-12 year old age group and is perfectly pitched to grip and retain their interest. It is also quite a short read, so not too daunting for those first venturing into reading alone.
Mackenzie lives with his drunken, abusive and neglectful dad. This is a subject matter which could be somewhat controversial in a children's book but is a brave one and one that deserves a mention. Children should not always be hidden from the harsh realities of life and Ingrid Lee does not shy away from it. One day Mackenzie's dad comes home with a puppy which he dumps on the end of Mackenzie's bed. Mackenzie names her Cash. Cash is a pit bull and this story is set in a time when pit bulls are being banned by the local council. But Cash is good natured and placid. When Mackenzie's dad is drunk and kicks the dog, she doesn't fight back, but cowered in a corner.
One day, however, Mackenzie steps between his dad and the dog by accident and Mackenzie takes the kick. Then Cash turns. She steps in between Mackenzie and his dad, ready to defend her owner. She growls. This is too much for Mackenzie's dad who throws Cash into the boot of his car, drives far away and abandons the dog.
Herein ensues the main thrust of the story. Will Mackenzie and Cash ever find each other again? There are dangers to both boy and dog through out the course of the story so we are constantly kept guessing as to what might happen.
The story is told in third person and mainly from the point of view of Mackenzie and Cash, we see both sides of what happens when they are seperated. But there are also other people in this story. PC Dean is the local bobby and parts of the story are told from his point of view. Then there is Mrs Brody, an old lady living alone on the same street as Mackenzie, and Abi, a young woman who takes the evening train past Mackenzie's street three times a week on her way back from dialysis. All these have a part to play in the story, and although all seem completely seperate for a long time, all their stories knit together before the end.
The language in this story is very accesible for this pre-teen market, and the subject matter (troubled boy and lost dog) is a winning one. The pit bull side to the story adds an extra element and one that is informative and certainly provoked a lot of discussion with the children I shared this book with. They thought this was one of the best books we have read this year.
The book costs £4.99 and is published by Chicken House.