by Diana Wynne Jones
The title is a play on words. People of a British persuasion use the word "dogsbody" as a term for an unregarded person who hangs around doing odd jobs and taking everyone's abuse. Sort of like the house-elves in Harry Potter, a character who does all the things no one else wants to do and doesn't get any credit for it.
The title is ironic because the story is about how Sirius, the personification of the Dog-Star, is condemned for a crime he didn't commit, and his sentence is to live a dog's life (literally) on Earth. Imprisoned in a dog's body, he is soon adopted by an unfortunate Irish girl named Kathleen who is, for want of a better word, a dogsbody to the family that has taken her in.
Sirius the dog is Kathleen's only solace. Her personal family drama comes to a climax at the same time as Sirius' search for the celestial weapon, fallen to earth, which alone can clear his name...or, if it falls into the wrong hands, could destroy the whole world. Befriended by various people, cats, dogs, and forces of nature, but pursued by enemies of terrific nastiness, Sirius also has to work whether he wants to be Kathleen's faithful dog, or to save the world and restore himself to his cosmic sphere.
You know, there's simply no way to summarize this story without making it sound totally loopy and/or giving away the whole thing. Take my word for it, it's a beautiful story full of love, sorrow, intrigue, and spine-tingling suspense. Though it also has a bit of sci-fi strangeness to it, its charming observations of dog and cat behavior are worth it. It's simply a page-turner.
Though this book doesn't have any Greek letters in it, like The Ogre Downstairs, it does have a lot of imagination as it portrays a variety of characters, from animal to superhuman and everything in between. It also tells a very unusual kind of love story. And it has that very special kind of ending, rare and treasured, which is at the same time a conventionally happy ending and breathtakingly sad. You really have to read it to believe it.
Recommended Age: 14+
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