Friday, December 16, 2005

Dogsbody - Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones' Dogsbody is a relatively straight-forward tale (for a DWJ book, at any rate) about what happens when hot-tempered Sirius, the immortal Lord of the Dog Star, wrongly accused of murder is banished and sent to live on Earth in the body of a new-born puppy with the instruction to find a means of clearing his name before the dog dies. At first Sirius does not recall his former life and concentrates only on surviving, a task made harder when the owner of his dog mother is advised to drown the puppies because they are mongrels.

Sirius is rescued by an unhappy little Irish girl called Kathleen who is living with her paternal uncle and his family in England whilst her father is in prison (the book was first published during The Troubles when the IRA was very active). Kathleen is bullied by her aunt and to a lesser extent her eldest cousin, and Sirius the puppy offers the hope of friendship that Kathleen otherwise lacks. As time passes and Sirius (or Leo as Kathleen names him) grows he begins to recall his former life and realises his has to find a way to clear his name or he will die when his dog body dies. Sirius is helped by Sol, the Lord of the Sun, and by both the Moon and the Earth; but he's also helped by his brothers and sister (the four other puppies who survived the attempted drowning), the household cats (who initially hated him) and by various humans who take a liking to him. Unfortunately, Sirius is in danger from the New-Sirius and his former Companion, the inhabitant of the white dwarf that circled his star, as well as humans like Kathleen's aunt Duffie.

I can easily imagine this book being popular with dog-loving children, especially girls.


Fence said...

It sounds fun, I would have loved to read it as a kid.

Mrs. Coulter said...

This was one of my favorite books when I was a younger. (Girl, check. Dog lover, check.) I checked it out of the library over and over again. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it is when I had the opportunity to reread it a couple years ago.

Michele said...

I'm beginning to wish I'd discovered Diana Wynne Jones when I was a child/teen - somehow they completely passed me by - possibly because as a child I was very into adventure stories (Willard Price was a real favourite of mine), rather than magic and fantasy, and as a teen, I'd moved onto reading adult fiction and a lot of non-fiction !