William hounds the rhino poachers

[caption id="attachment_38502" align="alignright" width="300"] DOGGED DETERMINATION: Author Elizabeth Wasserman and a version of William[/caption]

DOGTECTIVE WILLIAM AND THE POACHERS by Elizabeth Wasserman, published by NB Publishers Reviewed by Cornelia Le Roux

SNAKES. Lions. Hyenas, the tokoloshe ... add to this list of unscrupulous rhino poachers armed to the teeth with machine guns, and Dogtective William and his young "owner" Alex have got their job cut out to save the day.

In Dogtective William and the Poachers, author Elizabeth Wasserman puts the unlikely duo on their third riotous adventure together. Having travelled Europe and the Indian Ocean in Dogtective William Travels the World, they are sent to stay with Alex's rough and bush-ready Aunt Ada on her game farm on the border of Botswana.

The action is fast-paced and there is never a dull moment. They have scarcely landed at the airport, before they whoosh again through the air to the farm with Aunt Ada's small yellow plane, which William calls "a wheelbarrow with wings". They spot a hole in the fence and immediately Aunt Ada is up in arms about poachers!

Her neighbour, Jim Jackson, seems to be in on the action and to Alex's surprise, Scurvy Scabscratch and his gang are back and willing to do anything to get the horns of the rhinos on the farm. When Alex is captured, his only hope is that William will save him, but the overweight city slicker of a spaniel is lost in the bushveld among wild creatures.

Now for anybody who does not know about the remarkable qualities of William, here's a quick rundown: He is a talking superdog with incredible skills he picked up during his training at the IDA.

He knows how to drive, shoot a rifle, speak French and a bit of rusty Spanish, among other things. Definitely any man's best friend and he is usually the one who gets the pair out of trouble. The book explores the very topical plot of rhino-poaching. By tracking the poachers, young readers are also given some insight into the skills required to be game rangers as we meet Aunt Ada's righthand man, Ben, who is a San descendant. Age appropriate for nine years and up, this story is an adventurous page-turner packed with humour and the rugged illustrations by Chris Venter gives a true Bushveld feel to the book.

Elizabeth Wasserman is a pathologist and professor in the department of medical microbiology at the University of Stellenbosch, as well as author of various children's books.

These include the Speurhond Willem and Anna Atoom series, which was awarded the prestigious Alba Bouwer prize last year.

When her daughter was still fairly young, she had to travel a lot for work and started to write her daughter letters on a train making its way somewhere through Germany. She incorporated their blue roan cocker spaniel (with a taste for cupcakes!) into the "story letters" which eventually grew into the Speurhond Willem series.

Apart from Dogtective William and the Poachers, which retails for R120, two other books in the series have been translated into English: Dogtective William Travels the World and Dogtective William and the Pirates.

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