The Way of Dog (Zana Fraillon, UQP)
The Way of Dog is the latest work from internationally acclaimed author Zana Fraillon. A beautifully written verse novel told through an animal voice, this is an ambitious and absorbing work. Scruffity is born into the harsh realities of a puppy farm. Separated from mother and siblings, he survives through his desire to belong and the belief that there is more to the world than fear and concrete floors. When he meets a young boy dealing with his own loss, Scruffity claims him as his ‘manpup’ and the two forge a strong bond, giving each other the identity and family they long for. Together they escape horrors and embark on a treacherous journey. When they are tragically separated along the way, Scruffity is left to go on alone, forging his own unique path as he follows his instincts and ‘the way of dog’ to survive. Fraillon’s novel explores both the kindness and cruelties that exist in a complicated world, telling a story of tragedy and loss, but also of hope. The narrative unfolds through the unique perspective of Scruffity, and the use of verse connects the reader to the way he sees and processes the world while also driving the story forward with its rhythmic quality. Accompanied by illustrations from Sean Buckingham, this story is best suited to readers aged nine and up and will appeal to fans of Steven Herrick’s verse novels, especially Zoe, Max and the Bicycle Bus, which also marries poetry and narrative to convey strong emotions and themes. With The Way of Dog Fraillon has created a moving story that will speak to anyone who has had an animal choose them as their human.
M H Alessandrino is a Perth-based writer and a freelance reviewer.