Runt by Craig Silvey

Author: Craig Silvey
Illustrator: Sara Acton
Published: October 5 2022
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Readership: Middle Grade Fiction
Rating: ★★★★.5
RRP: $22.99

I received a copy of Runt from the publishers for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A heart-warming, funny, beautifully told story for readers of all ages from the bestselling author of Jasper Jones and Honeybee.

‘You don’t have to carry the weight of the world in your tool belt.’

Annie Shearer lives in the country town of Upson Downs with her best friend, an adopted stray dog called Runt. The two share a very special bond.

After years evading capture, Runt is remarkably fast and agile, perfect for herding runaway sheep. But when a greedy local landowner puts her family’s home at risk, Annie directs Runt’s extraordinary talents towards a different pursuit – winning the Agility Course Grand Championship at the lucrative Krumpets Dog Show in London.

However, there is a curious catch: Runt will only obey Annie’s commands if nobody else is watching.

With all eyes on them, Annie and Runt must beat the odds and the fastest dogs in the world to save her farm.

Runt is a heart-warming and hilarious tale of kindness, friendship, hurdles, hoops, tunnels, see-saws, being yourself and bringing out the best in others.

Every now and then you come across a book that reminds you of something from your childhood – for me, Runt is that book, reminding me of Babe and Charlotte’s Web in the best possible way.

Annie’s family live in rural Australia, and live under the hardships of drought (and a nefarious neighbour hoarding water), but Annie herself is happy. She’s found and adopted Runt, a dog of indeterminable breed, who loves her unconditionally and has a special ability to follow her every command – even if he refuses to do it around anyone else. When Annie learns that her family is suffering from money problems she wants to try and help fix it, which leads to her entering Runt into an agility competition.

Craig Silvey has crafted a wonderful set of characters who are warm and funny and instantly likeable. Annie and her family are quirky, full of interesting hobbies and feel like they could be your neighbours. The ‘villains’ of the piece of dastardly, in a funny way, and – in the way of children’s books – meet their match throughout the book.

I also loved Runt, who’s the every-dog – he’s not a pedigree dog, but he’s loyal, clever and loves his adopted owner with all his being. At it’s core, this book is about friendship and family and how if you trust in both of those things you can accomplish almost anything.

This is a great middle grade title that’s very easy to read. The illustrations throughout the book add to the story and help the reader to visual particular scenes of importance.

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