Good Dog Lion (Little Gems) by Alexander McCall Smith

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Good Dog Lion (Little Gems) by Alexander McCall Smith

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Category: Dyslexia Friendly
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Beautifully drawn pictures and a sweet story make this a lovely book for emerging readers.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 96 Date: September 2014
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781781123720

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Being a firm fan of Alexander McCall Smith's novels for adults, I wasn't surprised to find that I thoroughly enjoyed this children's story. Written with the same gentle understanding of human nature, and so very deftly told, I read this story with a great deal of pleasure. Although the story behind Timo's life is rather sad, with his father leaving him and his mother when Timo is only young, and his mother then struggling to find enough money to raise both of them, it never descends into tragedy but remains positive and upbeat. It's a story of strength, and bravery, and I'm not just talking about Timo and his mother.

You see, what Timo wants most in the world is a dog, but his mother just doesn't see how she could afford to keep a dog when they can barely feed themselves. One day, however, Timo is out collecting fruit for his mother to make jam to sell, he comes across a dog in distress, who has been bitten by a snake and truly needs his help. Timo knows of a vet in the village who is generous and kind-hearted, and the vet treats Timo's dog without payment, though unfortunately the dog has to have his leg amputated. You can probably guess that this doesn't stop the poor dog being quite the very best little dog in the world, but being able to guess the outcome doesn't lessen its appeal.

The story is written as a chapter book, so there are lots of fairly short chapters, ideal for those just heading towards those tricky chapter books without pictures, but here we still have lots of beautiful illustrations to help our emerging readers along. The chapters are short, around four to six pages, and the language is accessible. The book uses a specially coloured cream paper and font design and word spacing too, that helps children and adults with dyslexia to read the books more easily. The short chapters also help with this, and the illustrations of course help readers of all ages to interpret stories. At no time did I feel I was reading a specially written dyslexia-friendly, educational book however - this is a genuinely good story. Timo is a sweet character, and his dog is very endearing too!

The illustrations are beautifully drawn. They're done with such wonderfully warm colours that you feel that you are drawn into the story, enveloped in the warmth of Africa. Timo has a sweet, open face and I love the picture of him licking the spoon his mother has made jam with! I also like another full page picture of his mum making the jam, stirring the great bubbling pot. You can almost smell the sweetness of the berries.

This is certainly a book worth reading, both for younger and older readers. I am happy to steal it from my daughter's bookshelf (she rated it 10 out of 10 and said she particularly liked the dog!) and adding it to my own ever-growing collection of AMS books! Lovely for emerging readers, and those with any reading difficulties who want to try something a bit more grown up than a simple picture book.

You might also enjoy reading The Castle in the Field (Little Gems) by Michael Morpurgo and Faye Hansen or Blamehounds (Little Gems) by Ross Collins

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Buy Good Dog Lion (Little Gems) by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Good Dog Lion (Little Gems) by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Good Dog Lion (Little Gems) by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Good Dog Lion (Little Gems) by Alexander McCall Smith at


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