Review Detail

Kids Fiction 349
Don't Ignore Disease Transmission Risk Protocols!
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Georgie and her friend Ramzy enjoy hanging out in their seaside English town, romping with Georgie's rescue dog, Mr. Mash, who has a gas problem. When her father's girlfriend, Jessica, turns out to be allergic to dogs, Mr. Mash finds himself on the way back to the St. Woof's dog shelter, so Georgie volunteers there so she can still spend time with him. When the dog runs off with an older woman's bathing cap, the two friends meet the strange Dr. Pretorious. She invites the two to meet her at the Spanish City, and they are introduced to her impressive laboratory and her multisensory virtual reality (MSVR) machine! There are a lot of bugs in it (as well as a scorpion), but Dr. Pretorious enlists the two as coconspirators, and the adventure begins. When a dangerous disease, CBE, starts effecting dogs and threatens to kill them all off, Georgie and Ramzy must rely on Dr. Pretorious and her dubious technology in order to save the world.
Good Points
Like this author's The 1,000 Year Old Boy (2019), What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible (2018), and Time Traveling with a Hamster (2016), The Dog Who Saved the World incorporates charming English settings, beloved pets, and children who must venture beyond their comfort zones to deal with threatening situations. I love the MSVR, and the fact that it is still a work in progress with which Georgie and Ramzy must assist. Bonus points for not only having the female Dr. Pretorious, but for also having Jessica involved in biology and researching the CBE.

The thing that I enjoy most about Welford's work is the feeling of adventure. Sure, you may be a little scared to make a time travel machine out of a bathtub and an old laptop, or if you turn invisible, but what an opportunity these situations present for children to venture out of their comfort zones in order to make positive changes in the world. The upbeat attitude in the face of adversity is always refreshing in middle grade stories, especially in speculative fiction, which has a tendency to turn a bit grim. Adding a farting dog goes a long way to brighten things up.

This was published in England before the COVID-19 pandemic, but has an extra layer of believability now that we have all seen how diseases can spread and have devastating consequences. This is an interesting mix of time travel and dystopia, and there's a growing list of plague dystopian novels to which this can be added, along with Lu's Legend, Chadda's City of the Plague God, Hirsch's Eleventh Plague, Ford's Z, and Burt's chillingly relevant Cleo Porter and the Body Electric.
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