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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Watson the Detective Dog by Susan Brocker


Watson is training to be a conservation dog, and there is a special species in danger. Some itty-bitty freshwater fish - īnanga or whitebait - need saving. The  cocker spaniel puppy is put through his paces as he learns to become a conservation dog. 

Inspired by real events, author Susan Brocker has once again created an entertaining and informative picture book for children. Brocker uses the real-life Watson to inspire a fun story while teaching younger readers about New Zealand's conservation dogs and the important part they play. As well as learning about the dogs, Brocker touches on other native New Zealand animals, pollution and overfishing, and biosecurity.

It's not all educational though, with Brocker revealing both the serious and the fun-loving side of the puppy to ensure there's plenty to giggle over during reading (a puddle of pūkeko poo anyone?).

Brocker is sure to captivate readers with her writing features too. There's lots of lovely alliteration and it makes for a great read-aloud with varied sentence lengths and repetition.

Illustrator Jenny Cooper puts Watson, and human dad Jon, centre stage in her pencil and watercolour artwork. Her style is instantly recognisable and once again her artwork brims with expression and humour.

A photograph of the real Watson is also included. While not included in the book, older readers will be able to hunt further reading ideas or online resources out themselves or with the support of an adult.

This is a book that will be at home in any classroom. There's a lot of learning it could form the jumping off point to - as well as the obvious conservation and environment links, Brocker drops little pearls of information for the reader to explore. From weaving to mātauranga Māori, television production to the five senses, and so much more, there's a myriad of learning opportunities within the pages just waiting to be teased out.

Watson the Detective Dog is another exceptional book by a pair of New Zealand's best children's book creators. A fantastic story that shines a light on conservation within our country that will both entertain and inform.


Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell



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