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I Can't Draw, Okay? Tom Watson apologises in the opening chapter of Stick Dog. He then goes on to lay some ground rules with the reader, explaining that:
....this Stick Dog story (with the bad pictures that my art teacher doesn't like) will also be told in a way that I like (but my English teacher doesn't).
Excellent. Let's move on.
This is going to be fun.
With this unusual introduction over, Watson launches headlong into a tale of a badly-drawn dog and his four (equally badly-drawn) doggie friends: Poo-Poo the poodle, Stripes the Dalmatian, Mutt the mongrel and a Dachshund called...Karen. The dogs have but one mission; to infiltrate the barbeque at the local park and grab themselves some burgers.
The style of the book is great fun, with lined pages resembling a school exercise book filled with plenty of random scribbles and scrawls. The author uses a chatty, conversational tone throughout the book, as if he is talking to a close friend, and often gets lost in his own thoughts and asides, which can be quite humorous at times, although the language is very child-like and clearly aimed at the target audience.
Stick Dog is quite a lovable character really. Maybe I like him because I draw dogs in a similar way! He is a sensible sort of character; wise and unflappable despite the chaos going on all around him. I thought the illustrations in the book were quirky and cute and would really appeal to young children. The book is written in a similar style to Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney.
Unfortunately, the story was not as engaging as the illustrations. I found it all a little flat and nonsensical. The cover art brands Stick Dog as: A really GOOD story with kind of BAD drawings. I would disagree. I liked the artwork but found the story lacklustre and predictable. The intrusive narration becomes a little irritating after a while, although that may be purely my perspective as an adult reading a kid's book.
I genuinely liked the characters though and would love to see Stick Dog again in the future, but with a stronger storyline. Given the right kind of stories, Stick Dog could prove to be a very popular character indeed.
This book review previously appeared under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk. I thank the publishers for my review copy.