You would be barking mad to miss out on the middle-grade graphic novel debut from award winning author Remy Lai.
Meet Pawcasso, an adorable dog who is entrusted with doing his family’s grocery shopping. When lonely Jo spots the basket-carrying dog on the first day of the summer holidays she cannot believe her eyes. Keen to learn the truth about the cool canine, Jo follows. But when she is mistaken for the dog’s owner by a group of children, she finds herself reluctantly hiding the truth. After all, what’s the worst that can happen…
I’m sure everyone has told a little white lie at some point, I know I certainly have. Luckily I’ve never had to deal with the consequences or have had things spiral out of control quite so quickly as poor Jo. Starring the world’s most paw-some dog, Pawcasso is a funny and heart-warming story about the special bond between humans and pets, or in this case, adopted pets, making friends and becoming part of the community in which you live. Whilst there is plenty of light-heartedness and fun to this playful graphic novel, don’t be fooled by the big bundle of fluffiness that is clearly the star of the show. Scratch a little deeper and there is an exploration of loneliness, love and hate, community, family dynamics and forgiveness.
As a reader you really feel for Jo who has a lot going on in her life, there are feelings of loneliness both at school and home, her father works overseas and she resents him for the lack of time he is around, her mother is busy looking after two young siblings and her older sister doesn’t want much to do with her. Pawcasso provides the perfect antidote and brings some much needed joy, misadventure and shenanigans into Jo’s life.
It is so much fun watching Jo pretend to be Pawcasso’s owner as one little white lie turns into another and turns into another - this in itself is a cautionary tale to readers. What starts out as a harmless bit of fun becomes increasingly more challenging. As Pawcasso brings Jo friends he also brings problems as he becomes a local celebrity, an internet sensation and attracts the attention of both an angry neighbour and the animal warden. With Jo’s life becoming more complicated but a lot more enjoyable she finds herself and Pawcasso caught in the middle of a town conflict as to whether dogs should be allowed to roam the streets off leash and readers are left wondering what will happen to Pawcasso and will Jo get found out. With the inevitable climax where everything comes out, it is Jo and Pawcasso that find a way to unite everybody that will leave readers feeling warm and fuzzy inside.
The delightful action unfolds in a community where children bond at art classes whilst sketching the most popular dog in town, enjoy book club at the local library and eat a lot of ice-cream. The little neighbourhood is brought to life by Lai’s superb artwork. Vibrant and colourful panels are full of laugh-out-loud moments one minute and are quickly followed by worry, frustration and sadness as Jo’s increasingly complicated life is a rollercoaster of highs and lows. Every illustration of Pawcasso is filled with love, particular favourites are of him with a towel wrapped around his head, lazing on beanbags in the library and rolling in poop (on more than one occasion). The map that shows a dog’s view of the wood is pure genius!
Just like Pawcasso, Lai’s book is one big bundle of joy and everyone will be wanting a Pawcasso of their own, if you don’t have one already. Pawcasso is sure to brighten the day of anyone who reads this adorable graphic novel. A tail-wagging success!
Recommended for 7+