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Pawcasso by Remy Lai

Title: Pawcasso

Author: Remy Lai

Genre: Contemporary, Graphic novel

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: 18th May 2021

Format: Paperback

Pages: 240

Price: $16.99

Synopsis: A delightful graphic novel about friendship and belonging, starring the world’s most adorable dog, perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Guts.

Every Saturday, Pawcasso trots into town with a basket, a shopping list and cash in paw to buy groceries for his family. One day, he passes by Jo’s house, where she’s peering out the window, bored and lonely. When Jo sets out to follow him, a group of kids from school mistake her for Pawcasso’s owner and, excited to make new friends, she reluctantly hides the truth. But what starts as a Chihuahua-sized lie quickly grows into a Great Dane-sized problem when Pawcasso gets his own internet fan club … Trapped in a web of lies, will Jo risk her new friendships by telling the truth?

From the award-winning creator of Pie in the Sky comes a heart-warming and hilarious story about an unexpected friendship between the loneliest girl in class and the coolest canine in town.

‘Will steal your heart and melt it into a puddle of warm fuzzies. Dog-lovers and art-fans – this is the book for you!’ Oliver Phommavanh, author of Thai-riffic!Con-nerd and Natural Born Loser

~*~

Friendship, or at first, a lack thereof, seems to be a common theme in children’s literature lately, and throughout time. The idea that young children are grappling with issues of friendship and family conflicts drives so much of what we read, so much of what we have all been through that there is a universality in this theme. Remy Lai has coupled these ideas with a love of dogs, and a love of art to create Pawcasso. Pawcasso is about Jo, a lonely girl caught between her siblings, and feeling alone. One day, Jo sees a dog doing shopping in her area, and she follows him – all the way to the bookstore/community centre. Here, everyone assumes he is her dog – and she is invited to participate in the art class with him. Yet as one little lie grows, Jo soon finds that she needs to find out where Pawcasso – as everyone has been calling him – lives. As she grapples with her lies and her feelings of abandonment in her family and a sense of having no friends, Jo will find that she finds friends in unexpected places, and that what she does with Pawcasso can unite people in ways that were never expected -and that your heart and brain are filled with hate and love – and the power of love, kindness and friendship is what we should focus on.

This graphic novel by Remy Lai is a book filled with heart, puppies and art, as well as friendship. I loved the way the words and pictures interacted with each other so well, that it felt like they just flowed smoothly and merged together to create a powerful story that those of us who have felt alone or left out at any point in their lives. It celebrates puppies, families, reading and art – all things that I love, and many other people love too. Who wouldn’t love a story about a cute dog, and a community coming together to help the dog have his freedom, and enjoy roaming the world leash-free before popping home to his family. It is a beautifully written story that touches on so manty emotions visually and through speech, allowing the reader to understand what is happening whilst at the same time, bringing their own experiences to this. It is one of those books that has gaps – necessary gaps, but gaps that aren’t ambiguous or that confuse the reader. It instead fives us the answers but also the space to work things out, and I feel that kids books do this very well – in allowing us to peel back the layers but giving us what we need to piece things together – perhaps this speaks to the audience, that it is assumed kids needs this. Whatever the reason, I reiterate how well this worked in this book. So well, that I read it in one sitting, something I’ve do e with graphic novels as I am never quite sure where it will be okay to take a break, due to the lack of chapter divisions.

In doing this, the flow is uninterrupted, and works well for the format and capturing the reader’s attention. I was captured wholly by this book, and hope that it will spark a love of reading and art in kids and other readers, and show them what joys dogs can bring into our lives. This is the perfect book for fans of art and dogs – what better way to celebrate them than to combine them?

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