Book Review: “Jehan and the Quest of the Lost Dog” by Roseanne Hawke, University of Queensland Press (2017)
As a prolific author of more than twenty-five books, Roseanne Hawke has cemented her place as one of Australia’s best-loved writers for children. Her work as an aid worker for many years in Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates continues to inspire many of her stories, and has effectively given her Western audience exposure to the rarely heard voices of children living in the East.
In Jehan and the Quest of the Lost Dog, Hawke breathes life into the catastrophic flood that devastated parts of Pakistan in 2010. Originally inspired by a photograph that the author came across while researching the tragedy, it tells the story of Jehan, a nine-year-old boy, who, when separated from his brother Amir and parents, must fend for himself and survive dangerous flood-waters. Lost and alone, hope arrives in the form of dog Lali, and together the pair form a special bond that will drive their quest to be reunited once again with their families.
Written in sensitive, descriptive prose, Jehan and the Quest of the Lost Dog, is simple enough to be accessible for younger readers, yet with a narrative that will certainly allow for high-levels of engagement with older children and more sophisticated readers. In the classroom, the story could operate effectively as a class text with strong cross-curricular links to Geography and issues relating to social justice. For older students, the novel would pair well with the likes of Andy Mulligan’s 2010 novel Trash, and likewise the 2014 film of the same name.
Jehan and the Quest of the Lost Dog, is a simple, yet beautifully told story of hope and survival. It will certainly inspire students in the primary years, while deepening their cultural awareness, understanding of the world, its geography and how this environment interacts with humans.
Tanya Grech Welden