I grab Ruckus’s harness. When I look up the man is walking along the beach, the kid’s head bobbing up and down. That’s a lucky kid. Going to the beach with his dad and his dog. I wish my dad was here. A knot the size of a refrigerator hardens in my chest
Ruckus is just like any other puppy. He has a taste for the finer things in life, nice stockings, good shoes and expensive jewelry. Everywhere this Jack Russell terrier goes, he causes a ruckus, hence the name. These minor annoyances of puppy behavior help keep his young charge, Reece, busy and distracted amid changing family dynamics.
Reece’s parents have recently separated, leaving him and his sister Hazel living with their mother and their new puppy. While their dad is away living in Vancouver and fighting forest fires, their mother is juggling work responsibilities as an environmental advocate and a single mother.
Reece, longing for his dad, becomes distracted caring for this new, needy and busy puppy. While walking Ruckus along a beach, Reece is filled with longing for his father when he watches a man, his son and their dog walking together.
Reece tries to make sense of his parents’ separation. By learning to take care of his new dog as he navigates these feelings of loss, Reece is able to transfer his sense of helplessness about the change in his family into a sense of responsibility.
Elmquist writes eloquently and with appropriate vocabulary for the intended audience about Reece’s struggle and eventual acceptance of his parents’ trial separation and the complex feelings that emerge in his father’s absence. She delicately describes the pain and longing Reece experiences during his father’s absence and the confusion that accompanies his parents’ arguments.
Elmquist expertly weaves many issues of social responsibility into the main story and introduces young readers to social activism, environmentalism, and climate change as Reece’s father fights forest fires and his mother promotes recycling and composting and holds an environmental protest at the Legislature in Victoria, British Columbia.
Ruckus, part of the “Orca Echoes” series, is a low vocab entertaining early reader chapter book which contains black and white illustrations within each chapter. Children will enjoy this story about a busy puppy and the young boy who cares for him.
Emily Ruffell, a library assistant residing in London, Ontario, is currently enrolled in the Master of Library & Information Science graduate program at Western University.