Believe it

This is a totally unprompted, unpaid book review of “Some Dogs Do” by Jez Alborough

 

As we wound to a complete stop these past school holidays, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with my buddy – one Miss Lolly Gobble Bliss Bomb (the LGBB).

It’s been too long since we looked into those windows of the soul and truly reconnected. I spent a fortnight recharging myself and her. We ate ice cream. We played board games. We holidayed (more on that in another post).

We went to the library and spent two hours in there and came out with twenty-four borrowed books (all for her). We walked in during daylight and came out in the dark. When I suggested McDonald’s for tea – we were in the full swing of School Holiday Free-For-All – she took a step back with theatrically wide open arms and declared me “the kindest mummy in thaaa werrrrld” as she took a flying leap towards me and wrapping me in a soft, warm hug.

Seems no matter what I do, I’m always competing with bloody Ronald.

A last-minute pull off the shelf in the library when I saw the author was Jez Alborough netted us a very delightful, poignantly timed book. It has fast become Lolly’s favourite read and stands out amongst the other twenty-three (honestly, what was I thinking? How will I herd them all into the library bag, leaving none behind, when they need to be returned in a month’s time?).

The book is called “Some Dogs Do” and it is a real find.

In the book, Sid the dog is so filled with joy walking to school one morning that his feet leave the ground and he flies. He tells his best friend and he tells his teacher and classmates about it. But no one believes him. In fact, they laugh at him and the teacher tells him it’s wrong to lie. They tell him to prove it – now, feeling so put upon and low for being called out and laughed at, of course he feels no joy. Therefore, he can’t fly on demand. So did he fly at all? Just because nobody else saw it, does it mean it never happened?

The premise of this book is as innocent or as deep as you want to make it. It is actually quite masterful and I believe Jez (we’re fans in this house) has outdone himself this time! If you’ve read my blog long enough, you know me…. I took it in deeply. Of course I did. The subject of being disbelieved – and the resultant tear-inducing frustration and belittling that can result – when you are speaking YOUR truth is a huge, passionate one for me and I recognised this instantly.

And here’s why:  It says, with its gorgeous illustrations and its doggy characters (who are humanised but not human – the loveliest, gentlest way in my opinion, of dealing with some of these very human, very adult situations that confront children so often as they grow and develop their sense of Self), that just because people don’t believe you/what you believe/what you can do, doesn’t mean you are wrong. Doesn’t mean you can’t do. So his mates didn’t see him fly – they laughed at him – and his teacher scolded him for making up a story…. Defenseless he may have been but Sid found comfort in his Dad reaching out to him in the book. He was affirmed and validated in the most delightful way (Lolly LOVES the ending of this book and really enjoys that she can read it easily by herself) and I daresay the very young reader would get a real kick out of the pictures and the rhythm, even if they don’t understand the subtlety of the message.

Although it may be aimed at the preschool child, this is a really remarkable story (if you want to take it the “deep” way). There is no “right” time to teach (or start) believing in oneself. Heck, I know plenty of adults who must have missed class that day! In the book, when Sid is acknowledged by his father and believed easily without any real direct dialogue, the reader can take in the bigger picture at play here which contains such an important life message and gently presents an opportunity for some good discussion – that just because someone says they can do something (or, taking it further, that something has happened to them) and we ourselves have not witnessed it and/or it cannot be proven…. should we dismiss that person? That friend?

Taking it to a rather extreme note, what about all the stories we hear about children not being believed if they speak up about being molested? What happens to Sid in this book – albeit about him flying, in this case – happens a LOT; children are laughed at and ridiculed and disbelieved by their peers (and sometimes even the peers’ parents) for such small things. It’s little wonder there is such trepidation to speak up when it’s something that feels so shameful and unbelievable as being abused.

So… I for one relished the book as a vehicle for opening up dialogue with my daughter over something that has happened to her recently (not abuse, I hasten to add!). The discussion was led by her and I’m sure as she becomes more familiar with the story, she will broaden her angle on it.

And that’s what makes Some Dogs Do one for the bookshelf. I will be buying the LGBB her own copy so she can keep it.

 

Have you read Some Dogs Do with your child? What did you think, if you have read it?

Has this review inspired you to go and look for it at your local library? I hope so!

More Jez Alborough

 

 

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