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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
A world without cats? Where cats are extinct? That’s what the dogs of Dogtown believe. They don’t know or understand why, but that’s what the dog elders have told them. And there are two distinct, segregated suburbs of Dogtown: Big Rover and Little Rover. Big Rover was for the big dogs and Little Rover for the little dogs. And neither side could enter the other’s territory. It was dog law. And it had been for a very long time. Harry lived in Little Rover. A chance encounter with Grizzly, a big dog, while sneaking around the forbidden suburb of Big Rover, has Harry and his small dog friends running for cover. As he runs for cover, Harry stumbles on a cave that leads to a secret underground world, one that is full of cats. He has found Cat World and he’s discovered a secret well kept for years; that cats are not extinct. What follows is an adventure between the two dog suburbs and the recently rediscovered Cat World and a secret that festered between three leaders for too long.
Debbie L. Richardson’s Middle-Grade novel, Dog Town, may be set in Australia, but its universal appeal will have young readers around the world captivated. With a menagerie of humorous situations and quirky sayings and puns, like Barks A Lot Boulevard, déjà poo, Roll Over Road, Here Boy Lane, fur enough (instead of fair enough), Sit Boy Lane and much more, not to mention Harry’s funny little ditty, an abbreviated version of the alphabet song: “A B C D E F G / Food, Play, Sleep, Dig, Chew, Run, Wee…”, and the furless ones, who can be none other than the human caregivers, there’s a lot to like in this gem of a story. Harry is the main character and he passionately wants to be the best at everything he does, but there are some things he doesn’t enjoy, like swimming. In fact, it scares him. But he’s up to the challenge when it means saving the lives of his new friends from Cat World. The underlying secret that carries this story to a compelling resolution has a powerful message for readers, young and old alike: don’t let disagreements fester and don’t avoid apologies. We all make mistakes, we all say and do things we didn’t really mean, but we must own up to our misdeeds and apologize – sooner rather than later. A really fun read. Loved it.