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The Way of Dog

Shortlisted for the 2023 YABBA awards

Shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year

A CBCA Book of the Year Honour Book

Be strong. Be fierce. Life is more than a concrete floor...

Scruffity is born into the harsh, grey world of a puppy farm. Taken from his mamma and locked in a concrete cage, what he yearns for most is Family. To belong is The Way of Dog. But no one wants him.

Just as his chances of adoption grow dangerously thin, Scruffity is set free by a boy as unwanted and lonely as
he is.

Outside, Scruffity learns all about The Way of Dog – it is to run, to dig, to howl and, biggest of all, to love. But when tragedy strikes, Scruffity is suddenly all alone.

How does a dog find his way home when he never had one to begin with?

A fiercely original and deeply moving verse novel from the ABIA and CBCA award-winning author of The Bone Sparrow.



'A beautifully written verse novel told through an animal voice, this is an ambitious and absorbing work...With The Way of Dog Fraillon has created a moving story that will speak to anyone who has had an animal choose them as their human'

(Books and Publishing)

'This book has a timeless quality that feels like the work of Kate DiCamillo...It’s a book that is heartbreaking yet equally heartwarming, and it has been written with a great deal of care and compassion. The language is so alive that it will certainly make a wonderful read aloud. Highly recommended for ages 8–12'

(Readings Books)

‘I haven’t read many verse novels, but the ones I have read have been amazing, and I think The Way of Dog has to be the best.'

(Ashleigh Meikle;The Book Muse)

'Verse novels are becoming increasingly popular and more and more are being published. Their way of telling narrative  is intense and focused, using poetic techniques such as metaphor, simile, repetition, imagery and onomatopoeia. Zana Fraillon, award winner writer of The Bone Sparrow, The Lost Soul Atlas, The Curiosities (picture book) and The Ones That Disappeared has broken new ground again with this powerful and emotive verse novel told from a dog’s point of view that uses all of these techniques and more...What is outstanding about this engaging and emotional story is the visceral muscular poetry, crackling with energy, zooming all over the page...This is the best verse novel I have read in a long time and I hope it wins every prize in the children’s literary universe.

(Mia Macrossan; Storylinks Review)


'Prepare to have your heart smooshed in the best possible way in Zana Fraillon’s tender and gritty The Way of Dog (UQP)...Fraillon’s unique verse novel zings with energy as she skilfully plays with language in a way that gives voice to Scruffity. His joys, losses, fears and hopes are all vividly conveyed thanks to Fraillon’s gift with words, and Sean Buckingham’s evocative illustrations. The Way of Dog has dark moments, but it’s a story that will warm readers’ hearts, not break them'

(The Sydney Morning Herald)

'An absolutely gorgeous, heartbreaking, beautiful, wonderful story...The verse was so lyrical to read, with rhyme, alliteration and poetry effortlessly flowing within each stanza, capturing the true heart of this young dog.

Something special for all animal lovers.'


‘I haven’t read many verse novels, but the ones I have read have been amazing, and I think The Way of Dog has to be the best.'

(Ashleigh Meikle;The Book Muse)

'This stunning verse novel for middlegrade readers is such a joy to read - lyrical, moving and unique...This is a book that sings with vibrant language, and that has rushed its way towards the top of the middlegrade novels I've read so far this year.'

(Aussie Kids Books)

'Zana Fraillon is one of the most innovative Australian writers for young people as evidenced by her new Middle Grade verse novel ‘The Way of Dog’. The perspective is unique and fascinating, the language beautiful. The novel moves between heartbreak and hope. This is an ideal read for Upper Primary and Junior Secondary readers- and a great focus for adults reading contemporary junior fiction that pushes boundaries. Congratulations @zanafraillon Congratulations @uqpbooks , a publisher willing to offer dynamic and challenging reads for young people.

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟AND the illustrations by #seanbuckingham and design by @hannahjanzen_ are outstanding.'

(The Children's Bookshop)

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