Reviewed by Wendy Lipke
Anh Do is a Vietnamese-born Australian author, actor, comedian, and artist. He has appeared on many Australian TV shows. He is probably best known for his book The Happiest Refugee, and his TV show Anh’s Brush with Fame. But this talented man has written over thirty children’s books in several series. His latest contribution, and first book in this series, is Smarty Pup.
This book introduces Lily, her father and JJ (the puppy). When they collected JJ from the dog shelter, he was thought to be ‘not the smartest dog’ there, but he had big brown eyes and a lovely smile. A fierce storm during the night saw many strange things happen and one of them was that JJ could now talk and he was very smart. After the initial shock, Lily was excited to take her dog to school for show and tell. Another child took a T Rex egg along on the same day. What happened at the school that day when the T Rex egg goes missing, forms the story in this book.
JJ is blamed for the disappearance of the egg. He is locked up by security and the dog catchers are called. Lily helps him escape and together they solve the puzzle of the missing giant egg. As you can imagine with children running hither and thither, dogs and cats crossing their paths with dogcatchers and security all in the picture as well as a very irate headmaster, chaos ensues.
Typical of this author’s work, the book is in 14x20cm format with bright humorous animations dominating every page. The illustrations in this book by Anton Emdin brilliantly and humorously portray the pandemonium of the story. The words are easy to read, well-spaced on the bright white pages with key words in bold type. There is a page of stickers at the back of the book.
Many puns and jokes relating to dogs and eggs are found throughout the book. Text on the back cover reads ‘A totally PAWSOME new series from mega-selling author Anh Do’. At first, I thought there were no page numbers, but closer inspection showed a single paw print at the bottom of each page and in the middle of that was the small page numbers – white on black. There are 161 pages of enjoyment in this book.
Anh Do’s stories are always witty, charming, and warm-hearted.
Something interesting I read while researching the author was that seventeen of his children’s books were banned in a US school district. He was never made aware of the ban. The ban came in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. Apparently, it was his WeirDo series which was targeted. Overall, around 470 books had been banned in classrooms across 15 districts. The Central York ban was eventually overturned last year after an outcry from students and widespread criticism.
Anh has written many children’s books, many of which have been nominated for, or won awards, including the WeirDo series, Ninja Kid, and Into the Wild.
This is a wonderful book to read to young children or for any child or adult who enjoys humour.
by Anh Do