a funny look at chasing dreams, even if they seem impossible

by Lesley Gibbes, illustrated by Stephen Michael King – Allen & Unwin, 2016
ages 2 to 8 years / chapter books, funny

I’m dog-sitting just now. Dougal is a mini poodle with inflated ideas of his size and machismo. He reminds me a bit of Fizz. 

Fizz is a Bolognese (that’s a breed I hadn’t come across before these books – they’re pretty gorgeous)... 

He's a little dog with high hopes - he wants to be a police dog.

The trouble is, Bolognese dogs generally become lap dogs or show dogs. 

Fizz is full of optimism and determination in spite of his obvious limitations. And eventually his dream comes true – almost. He doesn’t make it as a regular police dog, instead he becomes an undercover agent.

There are four Fizz books – we have the first two and they're a lot of fun to read. 

All four books are excellent for early readers. The black and white illustrations on each page give extra insights into Fizz’s personality.

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And, importantly for new readers, the illustrations mean that each page is short and quick to read. That also means they’re less daunting than a whole page of script might be.

Fizz is a funny little dog who faces his challenges with gusto and determination. He makes a very good role model. 

There’s also a slightly suspenseful feel to the books – how will Fizz cope with the Police Academy testing, can Fizz save the day, is Amadeus the Rottweiler as scary as he seems? 

These are great books to read aloud to young children as a first chapter book. You’ll be able to read the whole thing in one sitting, but the chapters mean it can be read more slowly. The transition from full picture books to chapter books is an important one – and the longer the cross-over the better**. This is particularly ideal for 4 to 6 year olds who are just learning to maintain their attention span without the aid of a lot of pictures.

They're also great for slightly older children who have struggled with reading alone – the stories are interesting with enough complexity to make it a rewarding read even if you are a little older.

Any book that will capture the interest and bolster the confidence of a struggling reader is a good book. But the Fizz books are especially good:

They're about overcoming apparently insurmountable odds, changing strategies to find another way to follow your dreams, standing up to bullies, and facing challenges head on. And they’re funny – that's always a winner!

** Telling stories without any book at all is also important for making that transition – and that’s easier said than done I find. If your imagination doesn’t extend to completely new stories, making up additional stories for a known character can help. Fizz would be great for that; he’s sassy and cute and there’s plenty of scope for him to solve ‘new’ mysteries. It could also be fun to imagine what other characters do outside of the story – similar to fracturing fairy tales (here and here).