Zadie Ma and the Dog Who Chased the Moon
272pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99
Zadie Ma’s passion is writing stories, and she has discovered that sometimes they come true – as they did with the story of Little Ant Cassandra when the ants miraculously disappeared before her mother could spray them , and Little Kit who was a fox who could sing and the next day, she saw exactly that outside her window.
Shy and without a close friend until Sparrow moves in next door, Zadie’s dearest wish is to have a dog of her own and so she starts to write the story of a poor unwanted dog called Jupiter, who’s just waiting to be rescued by a loving girl like Zadie. Although Zadie can’t control which of her stories come true, perhaps this might be one of those that do.
Interspersed with both Zadie’s stories and graphic novel elements, this is a new release from Australian Children’s Laureate, Gabrielle Wang, for independent readers who like a down-to-earth story featuring characters they can relate to. For when Zadie sets off to find Jupiter, instead of minding the family’s shop, she does indeed find him and rescues him. But then she realises that she can’t keep him because her mother will not let her have a dog, particularly as their relationship is somewhat strained… Will her story have the happy ending she dreams of?
Gabrielle Wang is the author of a number of books for primary-aged readers, including The Beast of Hushing Wood , each different and intriguing. This one, set in Melbourne in 1955, has a personal tinge to it as it is prefaced with a photo of her with her grandfather and the family dog and dedicated to “Rusty, and all the other dogs who were lost and never found their way home”. In fact, in an interview, Wang says “This novel is a special love letter to my very first dog, Rusty, who my grandfather found wandering around lost at the Victoria market in Melbourne. “
It also touches on some of the attitudes that were prevalent at the time, including issues of racism and the place of women and animals in society offering an opportunity to reflect on how things have changed – or haven’t. Other stories with a similar timeframe that could be companion novels are 52 Mondays and The Unstoppable Flying Flanagan, both quite different but also with themes of family, friendship, determination and courage.