The Dog who Dared to Dream by Sun-mi Hwang

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The Dog Who Dared to Dream by Sun-mi Hwang

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Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: An outcast dog called Scraggly longs for love and family, in this poignant animal story translated from the original Korean text.
Buy? yes Borrow? yes
Pages: 176 Date: July 2016
Publisher: Abacus
ISBN: 978039142104

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From the very beginning, Scraggly knows that she is different to her brothers and sisters. Her siblings have short, glossy coats, but Scraggly's blue/black fur is long, wild and untamed. She may be an outsider, but she still enjoys life with her family in Grandpa Screecher's sunny yard, even if it means putting up with the evil cat next door. Scraggly dreams that things can stay this way forever, but fate has other plans. One tragic night, everything she loves is cruelly ripped away from her. As she struggles to rebuild a new life and family for herself, she comes to understand that sadness, betrayal and loss are an inevitable part of life. Can Scraggly ever learn to trust another human again?

The Dog Who Dared to Dream has been translated from the original Korean work from popular author Sun-mi Hwang, who is well known in her homeland for her touching animal tales. Although it is an animal story, the narrative contains plenty of poignant moments, as poor Scraggly is thrown from one tragedy to the next. One of the most interesting aspects of the story is Scraggly's ever-changing relationship with her owner, Grandpa Screecher. They have a turbulent relationship throughout the story; Grandpa can be harsh and unsentimental and Scraggly can be feisty and rebellious. Over time, however, their attitudes mellow and they find a way to meet in the middle. It is perhaps a mirror of the way a child-parent relationship changes over the years.

The cast of characters is small but memorable. In this world, the animals can understand the humans and each other, but the humans cannot understand the animals. This leads to some interesting encounters between Scraggly and the neighbourhood dogs, the savage cat next door and the pompous family hen, as well as other humans like Dongi, the adorable grandson of her adopted family.

The translation itself is patchy in places and I sometimes felt that the words used were not necessarily the right ones; particularly during dialogue between characters. It did affect the enjoyment of the book somewhat, as exchanges between characters often felt stilted and awkward.

The Dog who Dared to Dream straddles the line between adult and children's fiction and is hard to place into any particular category. The wording throughout the book is childlike and simple, but the content and underlying message are quite deep. Because much of the book is about death and loss, it can be an emotionally draining read and parents may wish to take this into consideration when deciding if this book is suitable for their child.

Despite the amount of grief and death in the book, the ending is an uplifting one and definitely liable to bring a tear to the eye. Have the box of tissues ready. Many thanks to the publishers for my review copy.

Fans of this book will enjoy reading The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide. Translated from the original Japanese, this poetic tale tells the story of an adorable cat called Chibi and the humans who fall in love with her.

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Buy The Dog who Dared to Dream by Sun-mi Hwang at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Dog who Dared to Dream by Sun-mi Hwang at


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