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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Ernie and the Magic Kennel by Robert Rakete and Jeanette Thomas

There, inside the kennel, Ernie sat upon his chair. And oh, so proud, he read aloud: Adventures start right here! This kennel's full of magic, read Ernie with delight. In this you'll fly, up in the sky. Get packed, you leave tonight.

So begins the tale of Ernie and the Magic Kennel, as Ernie and a colourful cast of adorable doggie pals go on an adventure around the world.

This is the debut book written by The Breeze radio station's Robert Rakete and Jeanette Thomas. The story was inspired by the station's own 'chief happiness officer' Ernie, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and Thomas's rescue dog Benny.

Each book purchased will support two charities - with Thomas donating her earnings to the Saving Hope Foundation, one of New Zealand's largest dog rescue groups. Rakete will donate his earnings to Duffy Books in Homes, a charity that works with low decile schools to encourage a love of books.

The story has a lovely rhythm to it, and it's clear Rakete and Thomas are parents as it flows beautifully as a read aloud.

I'm not sure if it was intentional, but we kind of forgot poor old Benny when reading the story. However, without giving the ending away, Benny and Ernie's decision at the end played in perfectly with the exclusion of the stray dog from a large part of the story.

The lesson the canines learn is sweet and heartwarming, without being over the top. Rakete and Thomas manage to convey a charming message of inclusivity and diversity using these sweet dogs.

Topping off the sweet story is Kimberly Andrews as illustrator. She has to be one of the best picture book illustrators in New Zealand at the moment and Ernie and the Magic Kennel is another fine example of her art. Each of the animals featured in the story is full of character and emotion. The backgrounds of each page are rich in detail and colour, much like her wonderful Puffin the Architect. The final page, featuring just two dog bowls, is poignant and perfect.

My children love books based on real animals, so it's fantastic that the real Ernie and Benny are introduced at the end of the book.

Ernie and the Magic Kennel is an adorable story about five doggie pals that will delight younger readers with their magical journey of family and friendship around the world.

Reviewed by: Rebekah Lyell

Scholastic, RRP $19.99

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