Our colleague Arabella’s latest book – “Floss the Lost Puppy” – is a heartwarming festive tale that is by turn sad, touching, uproariously funny and wise. It’s also very Romanian but with a distinctive British touch as one might expect from one of Romania’s leading writers of children’s fiction who happens to hail originally from the UK.
by Douglas Williams
They say to write about what you know and Arabella has adhered to this, taking her neighbours as the characters for her latest book and where she lives way up high amidst the breathtaking mountains of Transylvania as the setting. The book has at its centre two key themes one international, the other quite personal.
The narrator, a girl of 10, has had an unpleasant experience with a dog not so long ago and, when faced with a stray puppy mutt isn’t quite sure how to react. Winter is just round the corner and the mutt’s future isn’t looking too great. There’s an enthusiastic brother with an allergy, a Welsh artist who lives along the way flush with pearls of wisdom and a parallel family in London, grieving for the loss of their old pooch.
In the best children’s entertainment traditions there is a good sprinkling of laughs that are pitched just slightly out of reach of the young ones, but much appreciated by us more mature, big kids. The voice of the narrator combined with the easy diary format will have your kids hanging off every word and as things aren’t straightforward -is life ever?- there are a couple of key, cliffhanger moments. These are points when parents can try to call it a night only to have cries of “a bit more”. I’d say it’s about a four night, 15-20 minute a night read, very roughly.
“Floss the Lost Puppy” has the added advantage that it is bilingual, the book, that is, not the dog character in the book. Each page is divided in two, half English and half Romanian, making it very good for both learners of Romanian and of English and it’s surprisingly effective.
How do we deal with our fears, where do allergies fit into life, what about when someone or something we love moves far away, single parents, rural living, many areas are handled deftly and sensitively in this funny and wise book that your kids will enjoy at least twice. Just ensure you’ve either got a dog or reasons for not having one that will stand up to your kids’, no doubt, intense scrutiny.
“Floss the Lost Puppy” is available now in all good bookstores and also at Booklet Fiction. The number is 021 430 30 95.