In her picture book, nutritional therapist Laura Thompson looks at the anguish that occurs when a school sports day puts an overweight child in an unflattering spotlight. She then provides a solution to motivational challenges that the obese boy must conquer to become more fit.
Before heading off to participate in the dreaded school sports day, James consumes a fatty breakfast and treats his overweight dog, Scruff, to some bacon, too. After dragging his team at school to a loss, James returns home to find that Scruff is in a medical emergency thanks to the pet’s obesity. James takes seriously the counsel of a kindly veterinarian to stop overfeeding and start regularly exercising Scruff. And by taking care of his dog, James becomes so fit that he is welcomed as an asset to teams at school.
American readers will find that this book by a resident of Ireland is full of unfamiliar vocabulary and lacks some punctuation that they expect. For Thompson, sneakers are “runners”; dog food is “dog nuts”; and, instead of harping on the issue, James’ “Dad was always giving out” about Scruff begging for food. In practices that are correct in Ireland and the United Kingdom, Thompson doesn’t place periods after “Mr” or “Mrs” and refers to the vet as “Mr” instead of “Dr”.
While the vocabulary holds no mysteries for the Irish or British and can be fun for Americans to puzzle out, inconsistency in the use of the mother’s name is distracting (she’s “Mam” throughout except for once each when she’s “Mum” and “your mum”). Meanwhile, rather crude illustrations by Pat Thompson show some smudges, incorrect spelling and missing punctuation.
To win an international audience, the book requires a copyedit and cleaner, more professional art. Otherwise, with its engaging storyline and solution to a common problem, this book presents a worthy message about growing up and taking responsibility for one’s actions.
Also available as an ebook.