Fizz and the Police Dog Tryouts
Fizz and the Dog Academy Rescue
Fizz and the Show Dog Jewel Thief
Fizz and the Handbag Dognapper
Stephen Michael King
Allen & Unwin. 2016
80pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99
Fizz is now a grown up dog, no longer a puppy, and he is very determined that he wants to be a brave, clever, fast police dog. The only problem is that he is not a German Shepherd – he’s a small cute ball of white, fizzy, fuzzy fur! Not exactly the right look for a police dog. In fact he’s a Bolognese and comes from a long line of champion show dogs and is expected to follow the family tradition. Or at the very least a lapdog, a handbag dog or a companion dog like his brothers and sisters.
But Fizz is determined, even moreso when his friend Tom tells him it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog and shows him an advertisement for the upcoming police dog tryouts. All Fizz has to do was show up and pass three tests. But when he arrives at the police station he is somewhat daunted for there are many dogs waiting and all of them much bigger. His courage and confidence take a deep dive. When Amadeus who comes from a long line of police dogs and who has been practising for a long time, arrives with his ‘henchmen’ and starts to bully him and suggests he goes to the Miss Fluffy Puppy tryouts, Fizz really starts to worry and doubt. But from deep within, his determination rises and he stands up to Amadeus and refuses to give in.
And so the day begins, with Amadeus bullying Fizz at every opportunity trying to prove that he will be the next City Police Dog, not some little thing that looks like a powder puff. First up is the Bark Test, then the Scare Test and then the Chase-and-Catch Test. How will Fizz ever compete against all those other dogs? But being a police dog isn’t all about being the fiercest, angriest, loudest dog in the pack – it’s about being smart and fearless and resilient. But sometimes even that’s not enough. Amadeus becomes the City Police Dog and Fizz becomes…
This is a new series for younger almost-independent readers that will have wide appeal to those who like animal stories, adventure and fun. There are now four in the series which follow Fizz through his Academy training to become a dog detective and on to his first cases, one of which involves his sister Crystal. With short chapters and such an engaging character, the text demonstrates the author’s long experience as a primary school teacher as well as the owner of some feisty little dogs (who may have wanted to be police dogs too.) Stephen Michael King’s illustrations are the perfect accompaniment – who wouldn’t quiver in the face of Amadeus? You need to look what happens when you line the spines up in order! Clever!
Series offer many benefits for readers – not the least of which is encouraging the child to keep reading – and to find one that is so appealing to both boys and girls and is well written and appropriately illustrated is gold. The test for me is whether I can hear myself reading it aloud to children as I read it silently to myself, and this definitely met that criterion. Now to find some kids to share it with…
For those of you near Avalon in Sydney, Lesley Gibbes will be reading and signing copies of the books at the Avalon Community Library on July 7 at 10.30am. RSVP to the library.