Flash is the sort of dog that really appeals to me - not too big but not too small, a little bit scruffy and slightly grubby (I love the spatters and texture of his coat) and so cute that you can't help but forgive him when he gets into trouble, which happens constantly in this charmer of a picture book, follow-up to the equally delightful Bad Dog Flash.
It's a large size landscape format so the watercolour illustrations have plenty of room for variety. Some pages have a series of vignettes that capture the momentum and mischief of the young pup and his busy family. Other pages capture a full scene like the kids soccer game or classroom, or we zoom in close to see things from a dog's-eye point of view - I love the early scene where we see just the legs and briefcase of the dad rushing off to work as Flash looks out the dog door. The illustrations convey the very busy lives of the whole family, full of things the young readers will likely be familiar with - going shopping, to school and to work; whilst the text is primarily a simple narration of Flash's own busy day full of smells and sounds and temptations, interrupted by the recurrent 'Go home Flash!'
Flash is based on Ruth Paul's own dog's younger days and her affection for him is clear in the illustrations and the fun of the story, which concludes happily (of course) with Flash dreaming of a great game of 'chase the cat' (whilst sleeping under a lovely patchwork bed cover!) then finally being taken out for a walk.
Young children love to read books that reflect their own lives, indeed many children might identify with Flash himself and his propensity to find trouble simply through his enthusiasm for whatever he's keen to do at the time. This story is bound to be in high rotation with everyone joining in on the 'Go home Flash' chorus.
You can read about Ruth Paul, and see a photo of her with her own dog in an interview by Joely, Caitlin, Sophie and Laila from Lyttelton Primary School on the excellent Poetry Box blog.
Go Home Flash
Written & illustrated by Ruth Paul
Scholastic New Zealand
Also in te reo Maori
E Hoki Flash