Scout and the Rescue Dogs by Dianne Wolfer with illustrations by Tony Flowers is oozing with community spirit in the face of adversity, layered, authentic and endearing characters, a glimpse into the world of community outreach by truckies and gorgeous dogs needing to find their forever homes. This story seamlessly weaves together in a riveting and non-didactic way many themes including, the truckie community full of heart and spirit making deliveries during the 2019-20 Victorian bushfires, climate change, responsible pet ownership, puppy farms, a positive father daughter relationship, grief and loss.
Last day of the school year sees Scout finish Year 6 at her new posh boarding school and join her Dad in Big Rig, a dusty green Kenworth truck, as they set out on a job Scout’s Dad has volunteered for; delivering dog food that has been donated to a number of shelters before Christmas. This is Scout’s first Christmas without her Mum who passed away from Cancer earlier in the year. This is a journey where she and her Dad bond and navigate their loss and grief together, on the road, helping others the week before Christmas. This sadness and loss is overshadowed by love, hope and coming together wrapping around those (people and dogs) in need.
Scout has plenty to do on this job with her Dad, she is a keen rock collector and enjoys using her rock tumbler to polish them, she is a good sport with her Dad’s jokes and gives as good as she gets in the jokes department, there are beaches to enjoy in the oppressive heat and sunset dinners with her Dad where they often reflect on their family memories. She also has an online friendship project her teacher set for the class to complete over the holidays. Initially, Scout is reluctant to participate as she experienced mean girls who judged her, did not take the time to get to know her and this saw her experience a very lonely, horrid start to boarding school. This school was a massive transition for Scout who had to leave her family’s farm and board so her Dad can continue his job since her Mum passed. The friendship project yields unexpected results for Scout though.
Delivering to animal shelters sees Scout put to use her many strengths and brings to the fore her can-do attitude, creativity, resourcefulness, excellent problem solving skills and her ingenuity as each animal shelter sees her spring into action as she solves a pressing problem. Each issue requires a tailor made and inventive solution. A common need at all of the shelters is to find forever homes for all of the dogs. Scout has a real talent for creating perfect profiles for dogs in the shelters and decides to create a matchmaking website for dogs and truckies which also consumes much of her time and helps out all of the animal shelters and truckies.
The illustrations by Tony Flowers peppered throughout this book bring the dogs and their personalities to life.
While this book does have heavy themes it is balanced with humour, unbreakable family bonds, community spirit in all its glory and a narrative that leaves hope for the characters.