McTavish Takes the Biscuit
With illustrations by Grace Easton
With illustrations by Grace Easton
The Peachey family have become quite the cooks since McTavish joined the family. They take it in turns to make every meal and Betty is brilliant at baking fresh bread! But when Pa Peachey decides its his turn in the kitchen chaos quickly ensues, with only baking disasters making it to the dinner table. Unfortunately, Pa’s got even grander ideas and he’s sure he’s going to win the local Bake Off with his next creation ... a towering gingerbread sculpture of The Palace of Versailles! Looks like it’s time for McTavish to save the day – again.
“McTavish is an irresistible character, his gentle guiding of the Peacheys is very funny indeed, and this beautiful story will leave all readers smiling”
— Andrea Reece, Lovereading4kids
“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 hilarious story about a special rescue dog who makes a difference in surprising ways”
— The Scotsman
“Common sense has rarely been so charmingly conveyed”
— The New Statesman
“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
“Good Dog McTavish is a hilarious story about a special rescue dog who makes a difference in surprising ways”
— The Scotsman
“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
“It's what books for the 8+ age group should be - well written, engaging and accessible. Bookbag has no hesitation in recommending it”
“This characteristically sharp and witty comedy of modern life by Meg Rosoff stars a rescue dog who saves his new family, not from fire or external threat, but from themselves. A clever, funny and extremely stylish novella, and a wonderful bit of domestic satire.”
— Andrea Reece Lovereading4kids Book of the Month, April 2017
“Warm family drama full of wry humour and a really excellent dog”
— The Bookseller
“This brilliantly charming and heartwarming short novel is full of spark, keen observations and sly humour. Every character is brought perfectly to life, from grumpy dad to practical Betty and the can-do McTavish. A story with widespread appeal, but beware: it will make you want to adopt a McTavish of your own.”
— Booktrust Review
“This brilliantly charming and heartwarming short novel is full of spark, keen observations and sly humour. Every character is brought to life, from grumpy dad to practical Betty and the can-do McTavish”
— The Book Trust
“What a lovely short story. Recommend to boys and girls, especially those who like dogs”
— LoveReading4kids reviewer Tomasz, age 11
“This beautifully written story is a delight … I highly recommend Good Dog McTavish as a ‘must have’ in school libraries for any age range”
— Prue Goodwin, School Librarian
“This is something of a treat: Mum has resigned from her job and taken up yoga, the rest of the family are in the doghouse… could this rescue dog with a difference be just what they need? Rosoff’s first children’s book for some time, it’s wry, real and big-hearted, and a Spring lead for Barrington Stoke. Beautiful cover and inside illustrations from Easton”
— The Bookseller
“What’s for dinner?” asked Ollie.
“Whose turn is it to cook?” asked Ava.
Betty stuck her head out of the kitchen.
“It’s mine,” she said. “On the menu tonight is vegetarian lasagne with a salad of baby greens and for dessert, caramel chocolate tart with cream.”
“Great,” said Ollie.
“Yum,” said Ava.
Ever since Ma Peachey decided that mothers should not be responsible for all the daily chores of family life, the Peachey children had taken over their share of the cooking.
They learned that making a meal wasn’t difficult. You didn’t have to be old and experienced to make lasagne or chocolate brownies. You didn’t have to be married or very clever to roast a chicken or make fruit crumble. You just had to be able to read a recipe, measure ingredients and follow directions.
In no time at all, all three Peachey children were making delicious meals. The Peachey family had never eaten so well.
Today was Wednesday, so it was Betty’s turn to cook.
“I have a great deal of work yet to do,” Betty told Ava and Ollie, “so please go away.”
Only McTavish was allowed to stay in the kitchen while Betty mixed flour into melted butter, then slowly added milk to make a sauce for the lasagne. McTavish paid close attention as she whisked together the oil, vinegar, mustard and salt to make a dressing for the salad.
McTavish the rescue dog was often called upon to rescue the Peachey family. But in cases where rescue was not actually required, he still found ways to help.
While Betty was cooking, McTavish helped by clearing up anything that fell on the floor. McTavish was faster and more effective than a hoover and, although certain things (like lettuce) were not to his taste, he was excellent at clearing up bits of cheese, cake or bacon.
His services came in very handy when any of the Peachey children cooked. They were all very inventive when choosing recipes, but not always very tidy.
An average week might begin on Monday with Ava’s roast vegetable couscous followed by a special Moroccan milk pudding with rose syrup. Not to be outdone, Ollie would follow on 5
Tuesday with roast chicken, mashed potato and beans, with crème brulée for dessert. Betty always cooked complicated vegetarian dishes on Wednesday, while Ma Peachey preferred a simple dinner of spicy tomato pasta with fruit salad for Thursday. Pa Peachey was supposed to cook on Friday, but he grumbled about it so much that the rest of the family just made sandwiches on Friday nights and ate in front of the telly.
“I don’t like to cook,” Pa Peachey said.
“You like to eat,” Betty observed.
“That’s different,” he said, which Betty had to admit was true.
Cooking became so competitive in the Peachey family that even breakfast was exciting.
Instead of a bowl of cereal, breakfast might be a stack of pancakes with fruit compote and genuine Vermont maple syrup. Or porridge with blueberries and figs. Betty had even started making sourdough bread every week, because – she said – it made much tastier toast. Which it did. Once you’d eaten homemade sourdough toast with butter and jam, it was difficult to eat anything else.
As week followed week, the Peacheys became more and more particular about their food. The problem with eating good healthy 6 7
homemade food every day is that you don’t really want to eat boring meals or junk food any more.
So it happened that one fine morning, Pa Peachey sat down to breakfast, picked up a piece of toast from his plate and gasped.
“What is this?” he demanded.
“It’s toast,” Ava said. “A little bit like bread only browner.”
“Toast? You call this toast? This is not toast. Is it homemade? Was the bread lovingly shaped by the hands of a member of our very own family? Was it kneaded until smooth and put in a warm place to rise for as long as it needs? No, it was not.” Pa Peachey held the toast at arm’s length as if it might be dangerous. “This is poison.”
“Poison?” said Ollie, looking confused.
“This is not bread,” Pa Peachey said. “It is a cheap stand‑in made and sold by money‑grubbing manufacturers who do not care what real bread tastes like. You might as well eat an old sponge.”
Ollie stared at his father. Then at his toast. Then at his father again. “It doesn’t taste as good as Betty’s bread,” he said. “But—”
“I know what you’re going to say,” Pa Peachey said. “But any toast is not better than 8 9
no toast. This so‑called ‘toast’ is packed with chemicals, preservatives and sugars, prepared in a fraction of the time it takes to make real bread, then packaged in plastic that is guaranteed to destroy the oceans.”
Pa Peachey swung his gaze to his youngest child and pointed an accusing finger.
“You!” he said to Betty.
“Are you blaming Betty for the destruction of the oceans?” Ollie asked.
“My sourdough bread is still rising. It will not be ready till tonight,” Betty explained.
“One day of supermarket bread will not kill us,” Ava said.
“Perhaps,” said Pa Peachey. “But this toast is fit only for a dog.”
Everyone looked at McTavish, who felt deeply offended. He thought Betty’s sourdough bread was much better than supermarket bread.
“Betty is only nine years old,” Ma Peachey said. “She has school and homework and friends and chores. It is a special treat for us when she makes sourdough bread. It is not her job.”
“Why don’t you make the bread yourself?” Betty asked Pa Peachey. “Then you could be certain of having it for breakfast every day.”
“Maybe I will,” Pa Peachey said with 10 11
a thoughtful expression. “After all, if the youngest member of the family can make bread, it must not be very difficult.”
Ollie and Ava turned to look at Betty.
Ma Peachey looked nervous.
The following morning was Saturday.
When Ma Peachey woke up, Pa Peachey was already hard at work in the kitchen.
Ma Peachey pulled on her clothes and started down the stairs. Before she reached the bottom, she heard a terrible noise.
In the kitchen, she found Pa Peachey. At least she thought it was Pa Peachey. The person 12 13
she thought was Pa Peachey was completely covered in flour. The floor was covered in flour. The worktops were covered in flour. McTavish was covered in flour.
“Hello,” said Ma Peachey.
“Hello,” Pa Peachey said. “I’m afraid there has been an accident.”
“I can see that,” Ma Peachey said.
“The flour …” Pa Peachey said.
“Yes?” Ma Peachey said.
Ma Peachey frowned. “Are you sure you didn’t drop it? I have never heard of flour exploding before.”
Pa Peachey shrugged. “There is always a first time. I have discovered that baking is a very dangerous pursuit. I might have been killed.”
Ma Peachey did not ask how Pa Peachey might have been killed.
“And by the way, making bread is far more difficult than it looks,” Pa Peachey told her.
“I can see that,” said Ma Peachey.
“And far messier,” Pa Peachey said.
“I can see that too,” Ma Peachey said. She went to the cupboard, took out a dustpan and brush, a bucket, a sponge and an apron, and handed them to Pa Peachey.
“I have been thinking,” Pa Peachey said, taking the bucket and putting on the apron. “Baking is a difficult and hazardous occupation. Betty is far too young to handle perilous tools such as knives and fire.”
“And bags of flour?” Ma Peachey asked.
“Precisely,” said Pa Peachey.
“But who will take over the bread baking?” Ma Peachey asked.
“I will,” said Pa Peachey.
“I hope you will not find it too dangerous,” Ma Peachey said.
“I have learned a few lessons from my first attempt,” said Pa Peachey.
“Excellent,” said Ma Peachey.
“Once I have cleared up,” Pa Peachey said, brushing the flour out of his eyes. “I will go to the shop for more flour.”
“Make sure to get the non‑exploding type,” Ma Peachey said.
“Ha ha,” said Pa Peachey.
McTavish followed Ma Peachey out of the kitchen, leaving a trail of white paw prints.