Inspiring Young Readers

posted on 12 Jan 2024

The Incredible Adventures of Gaston Le Dog by Michael Rosen

Former Children’s Laureate, Michael Rosen is a prolific poet, storyteller and champion of reading for pleasure and he’s steeped in the history of fairy tales and folklore. In this new chapter book he draws on all this knowledge to stitch together a new tale for younger readers that is rich in references to existing fairy stories - like Puss in Boots, for example – and it carries echoes of even older traditional tales and Romances.

Gaston le Dog lives on a farm in France and has a perfectly happy life – but he’s got something on his mind. He can’t stop thinking about a beach he once visited and he’s driven by an unquenchable desire to go back there. It will be, he believes, the place where he can be perfectly happy.

So, he resolves that he must leave the farm and go to his perfect place – and all that remains is for him to do is find out the best way to get there. He puts his head down and sets off to follow his nose. But, this it turns out, isn’t necessarily the best solution. 

Luckily for Gaston, along the way he gathers a crew of friends and followers – a house martin, a hedgehog and a butterfly initially (and other will join later) - who are fascinated to go with him to find this wonderful beach and maybe help steer him in the right direction. Each of these staunch allies will bring their own special skills and help Gaston deal with some pretty hair-raising scrapes.

Will the friends manage to escape from the power-mad cat who imprisons them in the Chateau-Chateau? Will they be turned into gnomes? Will they be able to escape from the tunnels that seem to end in an impassable steel door? Will listen to the advice offered to them by a serpent?

All will be resolved as Gaston’s journey continues. There are surprises and plenty of laughs along the way as well as some lessons in the nature of friendship and forgiveness. But there’s also a serious message about the need to protect the beauty of the natural world and how easy it is for Paradise to become Paradise lost.

The book has been generously illustrated by Viviane Schwarz, an award-winning artist who was born in Germany but now lives and works in London. Her black and white drawings are liberally spread through the book and help to give the friends’ quest a visual reality on the page.

Published by Walker Books, The Incredible Adventures of Gaston Le Dog can be obtained from your local independent bookshop – who will be glad to order it for you if they don’t have copies on their shelves.


Terry Potter

January 2024