Two children who have pleaded with their parents for a pup are overjoyed when asked to watch their neighbor’s dog, hoping to change their parents’ minds. But alas, major mayhem ensues.
In Donald R. Draayer’s middle-grade book, siblings Dawn and Dirk love to play with BIG DOG, their next-door neighbor’s rambunctious Golden Retriever. When their parents agree to watch BIG DOG for two days, the children are giddy with joy. But just minutes into his visit, the dog topples juice glasses and drenches the newspaper, spills sugar across the kitchen floor, and knocks over their mother’s favorite flower pot.
He’s put in the basement for the day with the hope that he’ll stay out of trouble. He doesn’t of course, wreaking havoc downstairs. And later that night, the father must search for BIG DOG when he gets loose and chases a rabbit into the woods.
The second day, the siblings are distraught when after surveying another of BIG DOG’s messes, their mother says, “It is a very good thing this bad dog is going to his own house after supper.” Things look bleak—until a fortuitous event surprises all.
This is a promising plot. Unfortunately, unnecessary detail often interrupts the narrative flow: “Mother unlocked the front door with her key and opened it”; “Dirk kindly handed him a tall glass of water from the water faucet above the kitchen sink.” Additionally, sometimes the dialogue sounds staid and unnatural: “Let’s sit down and have a long evening meal.”
However, the author does a lovely job describing each scene, and near the end, the parents’ personas truly gel when they discuss the family’s experience with BIG DOG. Best of all, Draayer skillfully develops the star of the story as he reveals BIG DOG’s unwavering exuberance about everything and everyone, and his endearing obliviousness to the mayhem he causes.
Overall, this is a sweet, appealing story that could find broader appeal with some revision.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.