Toby, Mrs Forbes’ pet peke, is something of a maverick, and very appealing by way of his putting things right with a little mischief now and then. One day his life is transformed when Mrs Forbes realises from a TV programme about a Chinese dog show that he’s a perfect pedigree. (Her teenage son Nigel still teases him, however, that he would prefer a gun dog.) Groomed for success, he’s taken to the Beijing toy dog show, meeting his lady-love, Soo-foo soy wah-wah. Her owner Mei-Tapei is staying at the same dog-catering hotel. Also there is Black Columbus, prize-winning toy black poodle with a French owner, Monsieur Croute, whom Mrs Forbes is also acquainted with.
Mrs Forbes and Mei-Tapei take their prize-winning pekes for a walk in Tiananmen Square after the show. Toby becomes entangled in the rope of an enormous Chinese dragon kite, which accidentally escapes and takes off with him. Managing to get himself up onto the kite frame for a seat before whisked away over the Great Wall, eventually touching down into the clutches of opium smugglers who sell him to the Guangzhou market, Toby sees the darker side of life. He’s rescued by Mrs Forbes and returns to his neighbourhood a hero. Jester, the cocker spaniel who tends to preside over things, is particularly impressed.
This story is as humorous as Twisk, yet it’s more down-to-earth, and has several amusing new characters.
Nominee for 2014 Costa Children’s Literary Awards
Julia Hands (Cambs B.A.Hons) was born in Solihull, Warwickshire, growing up in Somerset and Warwickshire. She has a degree in English Literature having studied at Cambridge University. She's worked in various office jobs as a secretary and freelanced as an editor. She has worked for charity and enjoyed teaching in Adult Education while also writing for children. Inspiration has come from travelling in Europe and living in London and now pens her craft from her home in Shaldon Nr. Teignmouth Devon.
Photo by Andy Styles