Meg Rosoff

McTavish Goes Wild

With illustrations by Grace Easton


McTavish Goes Wild

With illustrations by Grace Easton


It's summer and the Peachey family is in crisis - again. Youngest child Betty Peachey is trying to persuade the family to go to the Faraway Campsite of Ma Peachey's idyllic dreams. But most of the Peacheys are still resisting. Pa Peachey is convinced that terrible dangers lurk in the `wild', Ollie only cares about whether there's a `disco', and Ava has her nose deep in philosophy books...But marvellous McTavish, always one step ahead of the Peacheys, quietly works out a way to get the family enjoying their holiday, together.


“I would McTavish to take me to Narnia were animals talk!”
CBBC Book of the Month

“Warm family drama full of wry humour and a really excellent dog”

“A laugh-aloud, entertaining story with larger-than-life characters, especially the captivating dog. I can’t wait to hear more about him”
Primary Times

“Common sense has rarely been so charmingly conveyed”
New Statesman

“This brilliantly charming and heart-warming short novel is full of spark, keen observations and sly humour”
— Book Trust


“A hilarious story about a special rescue dog who makes a difference in surprising ways”

“Full of Meg’s wry humour and beautiful prose, this is a story for the young and young at heart”
— Books Are My Bag

“A clever, funny and extremely stylish novella, and a wonderful bit of domestic satire”
— Lovereading4kids, Andrea Reece


“Suitable for smart seven-year-olds, but witty enough for older readers, Rosoff’s novella, illustrated by Grace Easton, is the second joyful tale of the Peachey family and their rescue dog McTavish who trains them. This time, on a camping holiday, he teaches the townies to revel in nature.”
— Sunday Times Book of the Week for 6-8 year olds

“What a lovely short story. Recommended to boys and girls, especially those who like dogs”
— Lovereading4kids reviewer Tomasz, age 11





School’s Out!

Betty Peachey opened her eyes.
She could hear birds singing. She could see sun shining. The air felt warm. Outside her window, bees buzzed and flowers nodded in the breeze.

She listened carefully. There was no shouting and no rushing about. No one was pounding on the bathroom door or stamping down the stairs. There was no smell of burning toast from the kitchen.

In the next room, her brother was still asleep.

In the room next to that, her sister was reading the works of a German philosopher whose name no one could spell.

Downstairs, Betty’s parents ate breakfast and read the newspaper.

The house was quiet except for the sound of turning pages and munching.

Summer! Betty thought. The first day of the summer holidays is the happiest day of the year. Even happier than Christmas.

Lying in her bed, with the sun streaming in through the window, Betty sighed. I must be the happiest girl in the world, she thought.

Lying on his bed under the stairs, McTavish sighed. I must be the happiest dog in the world, McTavish thought. For there is nothing a dog likes more than to have his entire pack all gathered together peacefully in one place.

McTavish had made a great deal of progress with the Peachey family since deciding to rescue them, but they still required hard work and patience.

Pa Peachey could be extremely stubborn. Ollie Peachey could be argumentative. Ava Peachey tended to read too much German philosophy and come up with too many theories.

Only Betty Peachey and her mother were the sort of calm, sensible, well‐behaved humans that dogs prefer to share a home with.

Training the Peachey family had been slow and difficult, but he was an intelligent dog and was up to the job. He understood that a family with an uncertain and chaotic past could not be fixed overnight. With a combination of love, patience and consistent handling, he had helped the Peacheys become far more organised and relaxed than when he had first decided to rescue them.

But there was still a long way to go. 


The Peacheys Choose a Holiday

“Well,” said Pa Peachey, when everyone had finally come down to breakfast. “Summer is upon us, and it is time we chose a destination for our family holiday.”

“I would like to go to a place with loud discos every night so I can meet many beautiful girls who will want to be my girlfriend,” said Ollie.

“I would like to visit the birthplace of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in Germany,” said Ava. “There, I will think about philosophy night and day.”

“A yoga retreat in India would be perfect,” mused Ma Peachey. “There, I might finally achieve my dream of striking a one‐handed tree pose.”

Betty Peachey was silent.
Everybody looked at her.
At last she took a deep breath.
“I,” she said, “would like to go camping.” 

“CAMPING?” The Peacheys were aghast.


“Camping? With horrible creeping crawling biting bugs?” said Ava.

“Camping? In the freezing rain? On the cold hard ground?” said Ollie. “With no wi‐fi and nowhere to charge your phone?”

“Camping? With poisonous snakes and rats and killer moles?” said Pa Peachey.

There was a long silence during which the Peacheys gaped at Betty.

“Yes,” said Betty. “Camping.”

McTavish crept out of his bed under the stairs to listen.

“For one thing,” Betty said, “camping is educational. You pitch your own tent and cook your own food. Camping builds camaraderie and cooperation. It requires skills, like making fires and reading maps. You learn new things and live side by side with nature.”

“I don’t want to live side by side with nature,” said Ollie. “I want a girlfriend.”

“I don’t want camaraderie,” said Ava, glaring at Ollie. “Especially if it’s with him.”

“Nature?” said Pa Peachey. “Nature is full of bears and Tasmanian devils. Nature is just another word for swamps and getting struck by lightning. Nature is falling out of a canoe and drowning. Or getting malaria from mosquitoes. Nature is having to eat crickets or starve to death. I hate nature.”

Everyone looked at Pa Peachey.

“Nature,” said Betty, “is the wind blowing gently through the trees. It is the sun warming your face. It is the smell of damp earth and
the sound of blackbirds singing. Nature is green shoots and new buds. It is daffodils and buttercups. I love nature.”

For a long moment, none of the Peacheys said a word.

At last, Ma Peachey spoke. “I think camping is an excellent idea. For one thing, it is not expensive. For another, it does not require mobile phones or laptops. And for a third thing, if we went camping, we would not have to put McTavish in a kennel. We could take him with us.”

Everyone looked at McTavish, who wagged his tail. In his opinion, this was the best argument in favour of camping.

He walked over to Betty and lay at her feet. Well, not actually at her feet but on her feet.

Pa Peachey shook his head. “This flirtation with nature is a travesty,” he said. “It will all end in tears.” But nobody paid much attention, because that is what Pa Peachey always said, about practically everything.