From her books you’d think that Kim Lewis was a born and bred English country girl so I was taken aback to learn that she’s actually from Montreal. But perhaps it’s not that surprising as Floss is all about the contrast between town and country and about moving to a new place.
At the beginning of the book Floss lives in a town with her owner and likes nothing more than spending all day playing football with the local children. Her owner’s son is a farmer and his dog is getting too old to work as a sheepdog – so Floss gets sent off to the country to take her place. The book has themes of the need to work versus the desire to play, the wrench of leaving behind the familiar and the struggle to be obedient.
Kim Lewis left Montreal to go to art school in London. She met her husband there and they moved up to Northumberland to farm. She started writing countryside tales when her son was young because she wanted stories that rural children could relate to and that city children could learn from. Her books capture the rugged beauty of the Northumberland countryside in detailed coloured pencil drawings full of movement and vitality.
When so often animal characters in books are the default ‘he’ it’s refreshing to have Floss as a ‘she’. A reminder that half the animal kingdom are also female. (Which you wouldn’t know from reading Dear Zoo where all eight of the animals sent are male. Which, you know, could just be a coincidence… I mean there is a 1/256 chance of it happening…)
My son is currently obsessed with dogs (or ‘duh’ as he calls them) so at time of writing this story is one of his favourites. And even with constant repetition Floss’s stoic hero(ine)ism doesn’t diminish.
Heroine rating: 4/5