• Picture Book Snob

Murphy's Law

By Muireann Ní Chíobháin and Paul Nugent, O'Brien Press

Prepare to have your heart stolen by Murphy, a puppy whose waggly tail constantly gets him in trouble but who manages to be the happiest dog in Ireland despite this. Murphy lives in a cottage surrounded by the sea and lots of fluffy dandelions, in a charming coastal village with his owner Mary. Just like the proverb 'Murphy's law' which declares that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, everywhere that Murphy goes, disaster seems sure to follow.

The story is told from Murphy's point of view which creates an interesting narrative framework. The reader can see the discrepancies between Murphy's perspective and the chaos depicted in the images. The contrast between the two generates plenty of amusement. And Murphy is a wonderful character; his enthusiasm for life is infectious and along with all the comedy, makes this a memorable and uplifting read.

The cheerful and animated illustrations are fabulous. There is so much happening in the illustrations. They are packed with clever details and lots of subtle humour too. I love the adults at the birthday party, gabbing away in the background, oblivious to the mess in the garden. The mischievous squirrels in this scene are hilarious too. The calendar at the start with the date circled - Friday 13th - also made me laugh and Murphy's bandana is an excellent touch.

We see stone walls and patchwork green fields, lots of farm animals, woodland creatures and wildlife, and beautiful scenery. It's fantastic that there's a female farmer and brilliant to see diverse characters that represent contemporary Ireland too. And we loved spotting so many familiar Irish products in the supermarket (and 'Brendan's' bread and 'Bullfrog's' cereals are strokes of genius!).

Murphy's many accidents had my kids in stitches. They love tracing Murphy's pawprints on the shop floor, the mayhem at the farm, the unfortunate manure incident and of course the water accident. They also love Murphy's cat teddy and the Polaroid-style snapshots that show Murphy's origins (and him as a baby) and then provide a glimpse of his continued adventures at the end. I think my own favourite image is the one showing Murphy dispersing dandelion seeds - and wishes - as the story concludes.

An adorable book that perfectly captures the beauty of Ireland on a sunny day, the exuberance of a high-spirited puppy and the special bond that exists between dogs and their humans. I hope there are many more waggly-tailed adventures of Murphy to follow!

Murphy's Law was published by O'Brien Press in April 2022 - see this book on the publisher's website Thanks so much to the lovely people in O'Brien Press for sharing this book with us - all opinions are our own. P.S. Wondering about the origins of Murphy's Law? I was surprised to learn it's not actually an Irish saying but that the Murphy it's attributed to was American (read more on Wikipedia).