I was lucky enough to receive an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the book tour hosted by the publisher – Algonquin Books.
Meet the busy, animal-mad, Branch Family! Mum and dad Branch are both vets and they live happily together with their three children – Caroline, Becket and Nicholas – on Blackberry Farm.
As the story opens, Becket and Nicholas are busy planning for their 10th birthday party – or at least Becket is. We very quickly realise that although Becket and Nicholas are twins, they are very different from each other. Whereas Becket is outgoing and loud, thriving in the company of others, Nicholas is more introverted and is quietly dreading the planned birthday party that his entire class has been invited to.
Each year, for their birthday, they receive a special gift from their parents. This year, Becket is desperate for a dog to join their family. Nicholas however, really wants a cat. When their parents agree that they can both have what they want, both children are ecstatic and they can’t wait to visit the shelter to choose their respective new pets.
‘Given’ the cat (because she’s a gift) and ‘Dibs’ the dog join the family but it doesn’t quite go the way the children were expecting… Whereas Nicholas was expecting a cat to be like him – quiet and happy with his own company, Given is quite the opposite. She is HUGE (and utterly gorgeous thanks to the fabulous illustrations by Leuyen Pham!) and likes nothing more than being the centre of attention. Dibs too, is not what Becket expected. He adores her, but is nervous of others and is more likely to run away and hide than want to be involved in the action.
This is a charming story of friendship and acceptance which gave me Enid Blyton feels. It was lovely to read about a really strong family unit who all pull together. It is bound to appeal to children – particularly those who love animals. I was lucky enough to be sent the first in the series too, so I will be reading that this week before taking both into school to introduce to my class. Thank you to Algonquin Books and to Adele Griffin for helping to make young readers.
This is out on 4th October – pre-order your copy now!