Scruff by Alice Bowsher

A little while ago a surprise parcel of children’s books arrived from lovely Lefki at Cicada Books and today I’m reviewing the first – Scruff by Alice Bowsher.

Scruff is available for purchase here.


I wanted a dog… This one was perfect! Nobody wanted him because he looked scruffy…. but I m a scruffy guy so that suited me just fine.

After picking out the scruffiest dog at the pound, the narrator is surprised to find that Scruff isn’t what he initially seemed. He doesn’t want to catch sticks… or roll in the mud or swim in the pond. What could be the problem? It turns out that Scruff just loves being pampered!

So the narrator goes along with it. They wash, brush, trim and polish together, until they are anything but scruffy! In their newly groomed state they go to the dog show… and win the prize for the dog that looks most like its owner!

A funny story that is sure to charm dog-mad little ones and their parents.

My Review of Scruff

Scruff and his owner need a haircut.

I always like to comment on the physical properties of children’s books and Alice Bowsher’s Scruff is robust and durable with a cover that would easily wipe clean from sticky fingers, making it ideal for home or school use. The illustrations are naive in style, appealing to young children, whilst being entertaining and supportive of the text, helping language acquisition, as well as being funny. I loved the fact that Scruff’s owner is not Caucasian as this helps celebrate diversity and shows young children that people of all ethnicities have status.  The majority of the other people in the book are multi-cultural in appearance too.

There’s a smashing story in Scruff that celebrates being different and helps children explore how we judge (quite literally) by appearances. Scruff does not behave like ‘normal’ dogs and I very much liked the concept of being individual because too frequently children are expected to behave as an homogeneous mass. The ending to the story shows clearly that we all have a talent for something even if it isn’t necessarily what we set out to do so that children can learn to accept themselves and find their own winning ways.

Scruff is an entertaining and informative book that could lead to all kinds of further child development as well as being enjoyed just as a story. I could envisage counting the dogs and owners at the dog show, looking for pictures of animals that look like people and finding out about them, talking about how to look after pets, producing artwork of pets and animals and so on. Scruff is a small book that packs a punch.

About Alice Bowsher

Alice Bowsher is an illustrator based in south-east London who has worked on numerous projects.

For more information, visit Alice’s website. You can follow Alice on Twitter @abowsh.

3 thoughts on “Scruff by Alice Bowsher

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