Milo: A Moving Story
Allen & Unwin, 2016
48pp. hbk., RRP $A29.99
For a dog, Milo’s life is quite ordinary. He lives in his kennel in “an okay part of town”, spending his days delivering parcels and enjoying the company of his friends like Cluffy and Snombo. He has few complaints until one night he has a strange dream that leaves him quite out of sorts. He argues with Snombo who is starting to write and quote “really lofty poetry” and there are some strange signs during the day that confuse him like a large rabble of moths fluttering by and even a scarecrow tumbling over and over. As the wind picks up, Milo seeks shelter in his kennel until that too, is picked up … and his adventures begin, especially after he meets Carlos, a curios sneakers-wearing migratory bird.
With its muted, almost monochromatic, palette adding to the atmosphere of ordinariness of Milo’s life and then his response to his argument with Snombo, Tohby Riddle has created another gentle but deep tale about friendship and falling out. The power of having a group of friends and the importance of apologising sits in stark contrast with the setting of New York, a city which conjures up an image of millions anonymous people, and readers will appreciate the quirky way that Milo learns his lesson. Riddle says that the story grew after being ill for weeks drifting in and out of sleep around characters who’d been “in his notebooks for years” and an image from a Goya painting. There is certainly a “Wizard of Oz” feel to the big wind blowing Milo away – did he really meet Carlos and the helpful window cleaners or was it all a dream because he was so upset after his argument with Snombo?
An enigma… that is moving in both senses of the word.