Class Book Review: McTavish on the Move

For these Year 6 pupils, McTavish on the Move opened up a conversation on their fears about major life changes

Louisa Farrow

Class book review: McTavish on the Move

McTavish on the Move

Author: Meg Rosoff
Illustrator: David Shephard
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
Details: 128 pages; £5.24
ISBN: 978-1781128732

Teacher review

McTavish on the Move reintroduces the reader to Meg Rosoff’s Peachey family. The family unit is made up of serially depressed Pa, long-suffering Ma and their three children. The most practical of the children is the youngest daughter, Betty, but most sensible of all is McTavish. McTavish is a rescue dog who entirely devotes himself to the family, ensuring that everyone is kept happy, especially Betty. 

So, when the family hears the unsettling news of the possibility of moving house for Pa’s new job, McTavish’s concern immediately turns to Betty. As we find out, Betty is dreading joining a new school. There are no spoilers here, however, so you’ll need to read the book to discover how he helps her to find a charmingly entertaining solution.

While the cast of characters was familiar from previous titles in this short series, this book works well entirely independently. It’s a beautifully written addition to the series. The words are chosen by Rosoff with care so, although the language is clear and the story is not long or complex, the surface simplicity belies its sophistication. The illustrations from David Shephard are well-placed and build on the understanding of character. While the ideas and concerns of the children would feel familiar to primary children in their later years, this book would definitely help to build and grow vocabulary.  

After some thought, I decided to share it with Year 6 children who enjoy reading but are still building their stamina. I was genuinely interested in their reactions. 

McTavish on the Move assumes that the Peachey family would have lived in a spacious house, with one of the children even having an en suite. So, it’s a much more affluent setting than would be usual at our school. But this did not put off the open-minded children who read it. They just homed in on the emotional similarities. Instead, it sparked a really interesting conversation and opportunity to discuss the worries that they were facing. 

I’d recommend it to children from Year 4 to Year 6, depending on whether it is a class or independent read. This book would work particularly well for those who are worried about changes in their lives, such as moving house, moving schools or even family members who are behaving out of character. It’s a lovely book for developing empathy and social strategies. We really enjoyed it. 

Louisa Farrow is assistant headteacher and teaching and learning support lead at St Matthew’s C of E Primary School in Birmingham

Pupil reviews: 

I think it’s the best book I’ve ever read. I am moving to a new country next year.  I was worried about it before, but this has helped me to feel more confident. 

Fadumo, age 10

I enjoyed the book. It’s probably my favourite. The dog is like a symbol of confidence and wisdom. 

Daria, age 10

I really liked it because when the girl first moved she was lonely but then, as time went on, she found lots of friends. 

Faith, age 10

I would recommend it.

Hamza, age 10

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Louisa Farrow

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