Dogger by Shirley Hughes

Once there was a soft brown toy called Dogger. One of his ears pointed upwards and the other flopped over. His fur was worn in places because he was quite old. He belonged to Dave.

dogger

Dogger is the timeless story of a child and their stuffed animal. Though this book was written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes in 1977 it, unlike Dogger, barely shows its age. Children will always love stuffed animals and they will also always lose them. In this particular book, Hughes gives Dogger a special anthropomorphic quality that animates his life though he remains inanimate.

Dave,  his baby brother Joe, his older sister Bella, Mum, and Dogger are walking home from school when they see something exciting – the school is setting up to have a fair! As the children watch the fair set-up, flag down a passing ice cream truck, and excitedly share cones amid conversation of the following days festivities something is overlooked. By bedtime, Dave tearily discovers dogger is nowhere to be found.

dogger 1The books switches back and forth from full page spreads to these lovely panels which gives it a sense of movement and passing time in the way that Dave perceives it.

The next day, with Dogger still missing; Dave, Joe, Bella, and Mum go to the fair. The fair is chalk full of stalls, contests, sports like an Egg-and-Spoon race, and even a Fancy Dress Parade

doggerr

The vividness of Hughes’ characters and the business of the fair are a story in themselves and can occupy the eye for many minutes.

While Bella wins a three legged race and a raffle, Dave sadly watches the fun and misses his lost friend. That is until a familiar face is spotted in the background and Bella does a very kind thing to help her brother retrieve Dogger.

Shirley Hughes’ large body of work is home to many recurring characters and definitely worth a read. Some gems include: Alfie’s Shop, Rhymes for Annie Rose, and Wheels.

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