The Sand Dog by Sarah Lean

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The Sand Dog by Sarah Lean

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Beautiful story of a boy, a girl, a lost dog, a missing grandfather, and the sea. An unforgettable exploration of belonging.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: May 2018
Publisher: Harper Collines
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0008165819

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Grandfather had been gone for two years but I never thought it would be an ordinary day he'd come back, like a Monday or a Tuesday... I always knew he'd return across the water, triumphing over a few monsters on the way, I just didn't known when.

Azi lives on a Mediterranean island. Since his grandfather left, he has been living with his irascible uncle who owns a busy tourist restaurant. Azi helps out as much as he can and he goes to school and works hard at his lessons. But he isn't really interested in Uncle's restaurant or playing with his classmates. Azi is interested in two things: the sea, and the return of Grandfather. Azi believes that Grandfather's return will be predicted by three signs and the arrival of a nesting sea turtle and a stray dog seem to Azi to be the first two such signs, so he sets himself to searching for the third.

And, as he uncovers more and more about Grandfather's departure, Azi learns more and more about the secrets of his past...

The Sand Dog is such a lovely story, it really is. Set on a Mediterranean island, it's full of beautiful descriptions of beaches and seas and wildlife. You can almost feel the hot sand between your toes and you're waiting with bated breath for the day the sea turtle's eggs hatch. This love of environment and landscape rises from every page and provides a secure framework for the narrative - the story of a young boy who is lost without the person he loves most and is searching for the feeling of belonging that was taken from him on the day his grandfather disappeared from his life.

Azi is a wonderful central character. He's kind and gentle and it's no surprise that lost dog Sandy latches onto him as a safe person to be around while he waits for his owners. Azi isn't stupid either. He knows that he is not being told the full story. And he won't stop looking for his grandfather until he has it. This makes him angry sometimes and he takes it out on the people around him, including Beth. But he's always ready with an apology once he's calmed down. The friendship he builds with Beth is lovely and valuable and together the two children truly explore what it means to belong.

Sarah Lean has taken some quite heavy and difficult topics about addiction and family dynamics and woven them into an evocative story with kindness at its centre. And, of course, found a place for the obligatory dog. Recommended for all middle graders who enjoy a story with a good heart.

If you enjoy stories that feature dogs, look no further than A Dog Called Homeless, also by Sarah Lean. It's lovely! You might also enjoy Catcall by Linda Newbery about Jamie, who has his own, unique, way of dealing with a changing family.

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Buy The Sand Dog by Sarah Lean at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Sand Dog by Sarah Lean at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Sand Dog by Sarah Lean at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Sand Dog by Sarah Lean at


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