Pup Patrol: Farm Rescue
Darrel and Sally Odgers (2015)
Gosford: Scholastic Press
Farm Rescue is the first story in a series about working dogs by Darrel and Sally Odgers. This is a book with a gentle exploration of natural phenomena that Australian farmers and those living in the bush, are up against.
Stamp, otherwise known by his pedigree name, Barnaby Station Stamp of Approval, is a Border Collie under the supervision of James Barnaby, a young man who lives on a farm station. Stamp cheerily narrates this particularly adventure as he accompanies James on a drive through the bush in the ‘Fourby’. When it doesn’t stop raining James and Stamp take shelter at Pepper Plains Farm where Stamp meets old Rusty, the aging sheep dog of the farm.
As the river rises both farmers and dogs are enlisted into sheep and human rescue operations. The chirpy narration by Stamp changes dramatically when Rusty jumps into the flooded causeway to rescue some sheep and is instantly swept away, addressing the issues of loss and bereavement for a beloved friend and pet. Hope springs eternal and Rusty is rescued and reunited with his family.
This book appealed hugely to my year three students, as they love stories about dogs. I was badgered on a daily basis to read ‘Stamp’ to them and they drew some wonderful images to accompany the story. This is also appropriate as an early independent reader for children in the 6-9 age range and it’s good to see they can explore more books in the series. This particularly connected to the children in my class with farming experience.
From a teaching perspective the use of colloquial language and the incorporation of doggy speak with words such as ‘pawfect’ gives an excellent opportunity to talk about words. At the end of each chapter there is a glossary of technical terms that explains words such as heifer, and this list includes the doggy speak, again giving rise to opportunities to talk about the ways language can be manipulated. It could promote discussion about perspective, for example Stamp’s role as the narrator and how this would be different if James was the story-teller. In all, it was a good read and inspired the children to want to read more books about Stamp.
Darrel and Sally Odgers have two previous series of books in this genre about dogs that have been appealing to 7-9 year old readers.
Sarah McIntosh - Teacher, Wanniassa Hills Primary School, Canberra, ACT