Bingo: Taking Flight; Passport: Australia
In the tradition of Roald Dahl, Runt is an absolutely charming story about a girl and her dog overcoming adversity, finding community, spreading positivity, and being celebrated for being their deliciously odd selves.
Annie Shearer lives in the down-on-its-luck rural Australian town of Upson Downs, where local baddie Earl Robert-Barren is hoarding water to drive his neighbours off their land so he can buy up their properties. Her family of oddballs struggles on.
Annie hatches a plan to save the family farm by entering her adopted stray dog named Runt in canine agility competitions. The prize money could change their lives, if only Runt wasn’t too painfully shy to show off his amazing skills when other people are watching.
Overcoming obstacles and attracting allies through pluckiness and charm, Annie and Runt win the national championship and, chaperoned by Annie’s dad Bryan, fly to London for the Agility Course Grand Championship at the Krumpets Dog Show. Will they overcome Runt’s performance anxiety, sabotage and other shenanigans to save the farm? Will they find a way to save the town, and for Annie’s family to fulfill the dreams that they have squashed down to survive?
Runt could be read and enjoyed by children from the middle primary years and up, but the older audience Craig Silvey has built through his earlier books seem to love it too. I know I did. It made me laugh, and smile, and feel better about the world. Read it if that’s what you need, or if you love plucky little girls or dogs.