Rusty to the Rescue tells a real story about what can go wrong when two boys take to the sea in their small sailing boats without checking either the tide or weather forecast. The unprepared boys launch their P class sailing dinghies (similar to a modern Optimist) and set off to race each other to a local island. Soon the seas are wild, the wind is strong, and the boys are marooned on the island. Their solution is to tie a rope around Rusty (their dog) who swims in and pulls the boys’ yachts off the beach.
The story is based on a real adventure that the author, Robert Findlay, remembered from his own youth. The cover of the picture book describes it as ‘exaggerated form a true story’ and I like that description. It does reflect a long gone era where kids were relatively free to roam, and before we had easy access to weather and sea forecasts. I think, for this reason, it would be hard to imagine modern kids relating to this. That said, being set locally, children may be able to recognise the adventure taking place close to home.
The one let down is the paper quality of this book down – it feels like a high quality magazine, not a book. This is a shame as the illustrations, by Dwain Epser, are good, and capture the feelings of the boys well, and the excitement and tension is evident throughout the story. Rusty to the Rescue is a fun bit of good old-fashioned adventure that New Zealand children are bound to enjoy.