I defy anyone not to raise a smile when they see a sausage dog.
Whether it’s the combination of that long body with those stubby legs, or the flappy ears that almost touch the ground, they are the most comedic of creatures – perfect for a children’s story.
And Odd Dog Out, the third book by award-winning author and illustrator Rob Biddulph, is one such perfect story.
I bought it on a whim in Waterstones as part of a multibuy offer (the other book was the Maurice Sendak classic Where The Wild Things Are), but this tale about an adorable dachshund who doesn’t fit in has quickly become a household favourite.
The story itself is classic children’s literature territory – conformity versus individuality, being proud of yourself and showing tolerance to people who are different to you. All lessons you wish to instill in your little people.
But in Rob’s capable hands, this timeless tale feels fresh.
From the bold, stylish illustrations to the gently witty rhyming text, you never tire of reading it – or looking at the pages.
It is just made for reading aloud and sharing. In fact, we’ve read it so many times now, we can recite it without looking.
There’s also something sweetly amusing about the endless rows of identikit sausage dogs – driving matching yellow cars in their black bowler hats – that our heroine feels so different from. After all, this is one of the most distinctive looking of breeds – how could they not stand out?
Craving acceptance, our rainbow-scarf wearing, guitar-playing, paragliding pooch heads off into the big wide world to find her tribe. But an encounter with another outsider makes her realise that perhaps there’s “nothing wrong with being me” and home calls.
You’ve got to love happy ending.
Even more happily for Rob Biddulph, Odd Dog Out recently won a BSC Festival of Literature Picture Book Award.
It’s shortlisted for Oscar’s Book Prize, the Independent Booksellers Book Award, the Sheffield Children’s Book Prize and the ABCD Cover of the Year.
This is definitely one story that stands out from the crowd.
Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph, £6.99 (paperback), Harper Collins