Growing up I always dreamed of having a dog. With all my heart I wanted one. And now we could easily have one but I think about all the wo...

Danny and the Dream Dog Blog Tour

Friday, October 19, 2018 BookBairn 2 Comments

Growing up I always dreamed of having a dog. With all my heart I wanted one. And now we could easily have one but I think about all the work that they are and I wonder if it's the right time for us. And I think...

Well, I don't know what I think. I think from a practical point of view it's a bad idea. There's too many things to consider: puppy training, daily walks with two toddlers in tow, the fact that those two kids are handful enough, what happens when we want to go out all day, what about holidays, can we afford to get one, what breed... the list goes on and one. But my heart swells at that the thought of our bairns growing up with a loyal friend who would love them and I just want one. Who knows what we will decide. At least the kids aren't old enough to ask because I don't think I would say no.

But the little boy in Danny and the Dream Dog by Fiona Barker and Howard Gray, he really really wants a dog, he dreams about it. But his mum says no (for all the reasons I've listed above and more). So when elderly Mrs Owen moves into the flat below them and needs help walking her dog, Danny's mum volunteers him for the job. But Maximus, the dog, doesn't look like Danny's dream dog, he doesn't behave like Danny's dream dog, but it turns out Maximus brings a lot of joy, and new friendships into Danny's life and in the end Danny, his Mum, Mrs Owens and Maximus are all happy. Such a joyful ending.

The illustrations in the story bring to life the magic, and mundane of having a dog. I particularly love the scenes of all Danny's dream dogs floating, scarpering around his room as he slumbers - it really brings to life a child's dreams of owning a dog. The characters are so expressive - when Danny tries to beg, plead with his mother for a dog, his expression, and his puppy dog eyes, are perfectly depicted. The cast of characters in this story are wonderful and the illustrations add to the heart-warming nature of this book which is ultimately about finding friendship in unexpected places.

As part of our stop on the Danny and the Dream Dog Blog Tour, we are delighted to welcome Howard Gray, the illustrator of the story, to tell us a little bit more about what and who inspires him and how he came to bring Danny and Maximus to life.

I have fond memories of Roald Dahl growing up. I think his work is a big influence on my stories. Also, I love the old, classical stuff. Grimm and Anderson in particular! My Mum is Dutch, so we would occasionally go to the Efteling, which is an immersive fairy tale theme park in The Netherlands. I absolutely love It there. A great Dutch illustrator, Anton Pieck, was responsible for designing much of it. It’s very cool and I would recommend it to anyone. Although, I’m not 100% sure if anything is in English? It might be now. Along with Anton Pieck, I really like older illustrators like John Bauer and Arthur Rackham. My Mum collects antique children’s books, so that might be partly why I have a soft spot for that kind of style. I love the moodiness in their work. This comes through in my own artwork at times, I think, but contemporary children’s books generally call for bold and bright artwork. Something I am working towards having more of. Of contemporary children’s illustrators, I’m a big fan of Benji Davies, which is perhaps no surprise being an aspiring children’s author/illustrator who has been involved in a few dolphin stranding rescues (in Oman) – cf. ‘the storm whale’. I also love David Litchfield. There is something magical and twinkly about his every spread. I can just look at his artwork all day. Working digitally, I am in awe and admiration of Jonny Duddle’s work too. He truly is a master and big inspiration. There are so many other illustrators I love. Alex T Smith – I love his characters. Catherine Rayner – awesome animals! Karl J. Mountford – such a cool style. Richard Jones – where does he find his colours? I could go on and on. 
I am delighted to be represented by Bright. An agency that represents many of my favourite artists too. Shortly after I met Fiona, and agreed to work with her on Danny, I was approached by Bright who had seen my portfolio on social media to ask whether I was interested in representation. I absolutely was, of course. Now, a couple of years in things are going well and I am building towards bigger things – hopefully author/illustrating my own book one day. We’ll see. In the meantime, I am over the moon to have worked with Fiona on Danny and the Dream Dog which will be the first picture book featuring my illustrations. Can’t wait for you all to see it.
Thank you so much, Howard, for sharing that with us. To find out more about this wonderful book or learn more about it's creators check out the other stops on the blog tour, pictured below.

*Danny and the Dream Dog is released on 25th October* 

If you've got a kid who is desperate for a dog - why not give this book a try in the interim?
Happy Reading,
Mummy and the bairns xx

Disclaimer: I was sent Danny and the Dream Dog for  free for review purposes by the publishers. Words and opinions are my own. If you click on the title or image of the book you will be sent to using an affiliate link. This means that if you choose to purchase on, I will receive a small sum (around 20-70p per book) from amazon at no extra cost to you. I understand that you may not want to use an affiliate link, but if you like reading our blog please just think of it as a small tip for a tip-off to an awesome book. And know that your support means I can buy more books! For more information check out our 'For Our Readers' section.


  1. The illustrations look great. Well done, Howard.

    1. That cover illustration is awesome! And can I have a dog please?