Andy Mulligan

Pushkin Children's Books

ISBN 9781782691716

A new book from the winner of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize When Tom meets Spider, he thinks he has found a friend for life. But their friendship doesn't run smoothly; Spider can't help being a naughty puppy, while Tom has to deal with his parents' separation, the pressure of a new school and a bully's unwanted attention. But when Tom and Spider become separated, they learn that they are far braver and more determined than anyone could have imagined. And in losing each other, they discover an unbreakable bond of love.

Librarian's Book choice




Andy Mulligan


Like Andy Mulligan's earlier books, Dog is a quirky story that takes you to unexpected places. In this case, a dog with an identity crisis and a boy who will stop at nothing to find his lost dog.

Spider is a gangly, energetic puppy who is excited about life and the fact he's been chosen to befriend a boy called Tom. But Spider is so new to the world that he is easy to manipulate and a tricksy spider and sly cat set about undermining the puppy's belief in himself and in those who care for him. The spider, called Thread, convinces Spider (the dog) that he is unlovable; while the cat sets out to make Spider believe he is, in fact, a cat. Eventually, Spider lands himself in so much trouble that he runs away where he meets other, kinder, animals who help to show him the way home, literally and metaphorically.

Spider' owner, Tom, is facing his own problems as his parents have recently separated and he is being bullied at school; the only thing keeping him together is his dog, Spider - until the day Spider runs away. Tom will do anything to get him back.

This story combines a fantasy animal quest with very real life questions around identity, belonging and how far we will go for those we love. It is also a really interesting exploration of bullying - not just the playground kicks endured by Tom, but the more subtle and manipulative bullying inflicted on Spider, whose innocence makes him an easy target. It is a complex message to achieve but Mulligan does it very well.

I'd suggest the book for mature readers aged ten and above. The book has many moments of humour and comedy, but there is also a lot of questioning by the characters and, until Spider's quest kicks off, there isn't initially a lot of action. However, the second part of the story is a full-throttle quest with chase scenes aplenty that kept me gripped.

Dog introduces much to discuss around friendship and understanding people's motivations so it could work well for groups as well as individual readers. It's certainly one of those stories that you'll remember.

256 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Alice Green.

Reviewed by: Helen Long