Digger and Me is the debut read from Ros Roberts for middle-grade children and is inspired by her own experience of losing her ‘beautiful Bernese mountain dog’.
Eleven-year-old James has a lot going on in his life. Everything is changing and it is very much not for the best. His parents are separated, there are new partners to navigate and if he’s completely honest he doesn’t particularly like either of them. At school, the class are having a new teacher for the third time this year just weeks before the end of term and high school is looming.
The one constant in his life is his loveable dog Digger. But when James finds a lump on Digger’s leg his world is turned upside down and he will need all members of his family, new and old, to help put things right…
Digger and Me is a heart-warming tale about the special relationship between child and pet. The book has much in common with the brilliant ‘I, Cosmo’ by Carlie Sorosiak and this is a very good thing. Having a pet is one of life’s absolute joys but when that pet becomes unwell it is devastating and this is exactly the situation that James finds himself in.
James’ life is a mixture of highs and lows. Change is never easy and James is experiencing plenty of it as new rules are introduced to his mum’s house by her partner Dave, and dad’s partner Jackie has little time for children and their pets. The special moments with his mum and dad are becoming ever more fleeting and are often quickly ruined by the voice or appearance of an unwanted partner. No matter what though, James can always find comfort, companionship and a shiny wet nose in his best mate Digger. Digger is his shoulder to cry on, the one to laugh with, the one to share his feelings with. But when the worst happens, James finds himself having to find comfort and understanding elsewhere and finds it in the most surprising of places.
Roberts sensitively explores the difficulties of new family dynamics and you really feel for James as he tries to work through muddled feelings about his mum and dad’s new partners. And whilst the situation that Digger goes through is really tough on everyone in the family, it is also the driver that brings everyone closer together.
The situations James faces at home are filled with emotion and in new teacher Mr. Froggatt he finds inspiration and a means by which he can let his emotions and feelings out. Mr. Froggatt enjoys poetry and James is able to find his voice through the written word as he creates various poems that allow him to share his thoughts that are too hard to express verbally. A brilliant teacher really can make the biggest difference to a child.
At times sad but ultimately heart-warming. Will resonate strongly with all pet owners.
Recommended for +9.
With thanks to Ros Roberts, Little Tiger Group and Stripes Publishing for the advanced reader copy that was received through NetGalley.