Danny and the Dream Dog by Fiona Barker, illustrated by Howard Gray

Today I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for, ‘Danny and the Dream Dog,’ the beautiful picture book written by Fiona Barker and illustrated by Howard Gray. This charming tale tells the story of Danny who is desperate to have a dog of his very own. Despite his continual pleading and his brilliant ability to look after his toy dog, his Mum refuses as the dog would be left at home all day. Down hearted and dejected Danny soon finds himself getting a chance to fulfil his dream when a new neighbour moves in and needs someone to walk her dog. Danny’s enthusiasm is dampened when he meets Maximus and discovers that he is far removed from his idea of a dream dog. Rabbit loving, sausage stealing Max seems to cause mischief and mayhem wherever he goes causing Danny more misery. But soon he recognises that whilst owning a dog may not be as easy and fun as he first thought, it’s so much better than an imaginary dog. Heart-warming and humorous in equal measures this story is just wonderful, leaving you with a warm glow inside. Howard’s delightful illustrations capture the ups and downs of this relationship perfectly. A touching story about finding friendship in the most unexpected of places.

Fiona Barker – Danny and the Dream Dog

When you see a finished book, it can be hard to imagine it being any other way. But anyone who has ever written anything will tell you that there is a process of evolution. It can sometimes feel like revolution! I’m going to let you in on a few secrets about how the characters in Danny and the Dream Dog ended up as they are.

First, of course, there is Danny. He started as a girl. This story began as a sequel to my first self-published story Amelie and the Great Outdoors. So, it was going to be Amelie and the Dream Dog because the inspiration came from my own daughter, Amelie, really wanting a dog.

(Illustration Rosie Brooks)

But the alliteration with Dream Dog works much better with a D name and as I’d already got one story about a girl, I thought I’d give a boy a go this time. So, Amelie became Danny.

Next up is Max. Max’s appearance didn’t change at all. I had a clear idea of what I wanted him to look like and Howard captured him perfectly straightaway. I did send him lots of photos of random suitable dogs that I met in the street or at fetes.


 Very sorry Howard! Max started out as Donald though. I still like the name and I do think it suited him.

But during the editing/feedback process it was pointed out that Danny/Donald might be a bit confusing and so I had to look around for another name. I did lots of research into popular dog names. In the end I decided on Maximus because he quite clearly isn’t and I thought that was funny. But I am very easily amused.

And last up is Mum. At the start of this story there is just Mum and Danny. We don’t know what happened to Dad and funnily enough I never thought about that. He just isn’t around and the fact that it’s just the two of them and they’re both out during the day is one of the reasons why they don’t have a dog at the start of the story. I did think a lot about Mum though. She’s a librarian. Howard hid one or two clues about her love of books in the illustrations. Top marks if you can spot them. And one of the sub-plots of the story is about pets, especially dogs, connecting people. Danny meets lots of new people in the park through Maximus’ adventures. One of them is sausage-sandwich-man. In my head, Mum and SSM strike up a friendship which blossoms into a beautiful relationship.

I probably need to get out more…

I really hope you enjoy reading about how Danny finds his dream dog and that it doesn’t put you off to think that it might have been about Amelie finding Donald!

Thank you to Fiona for this lovely blog post, I’m particularly happy about Mum being a librarian and I managed to spot a lovely book tote and the books on the table.

Blog Tour

Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for more reviews and guest posts.

Thanks to Fiona for inviting me to join in with the blog tour and to Tiny Tree for sending me a copy of this gorgeous book. ‘Danny and the Dream Dog,’ is released on October 25th and is available to pre-order online or from any good bookshop.

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