How Smudge Came

cover smudge_300Willustrated by Ron Lightburn
published by Red Deer Press

Cindy rescues a puppy from the garbage. Dogs aren’t allowed in the group home where she lives. She hides him in her room, but in no time he’s discovered and sent to the animal shelter. How can Cindy get the puppy back? How can she keep him forever? Help comes in an unexpected way which makes many people happy.

One lovely afternoon my friend and I went to the park. All around us children were playing happy games. Then I saw a boy sitting alone and listless on the grass. My friend said, “He has a hard time at home.” I knew how miserable that could feel. It was the same for me when I was a kid. I wanted to cheer him up, even if only for a minute. I went over and asked him if he’d like me to tell him a story.

His face went all bright and eager. “Oh, yes, please!” he said.

“What kind of story would you like?” I asked.

“Tell me a story about a woman named Cindy who gets a dog called Smudge from the SPCA.”

I was flummoxed. I knew hundreds of stories from my work as a professional storyteller. Not one of them was about a woman who gets a dog from the SPCA. What could I do? I didn’t want to disappoint him. I took a deep breath. “Once upon a time . . . .”

When I got home I thought, “Hey! I just made up a story! Here’s my chance to be a writer.” That was the beginning of the book How Smudge Came.

SmudgeCartoon_vert500WHAT PEOPLE SAID

“A beautifully constructed story. In the presence of an animal, we discover what is essential about ourselves.” Horn Book

“The sky’s the limit for this puppy!”  Calgary Herald

“groundbreaking”  Instructor

“A major step in publishing” Magnies Volums, Australia

“beautiful sense of fragility, steadfastness, and connection” Booklist starred review

“an extraordinary book” Quill and Quire


  • Winner, Sheila A Egoff Children’s Literature Prize
  • Winner, Mr. Christie’s Book Award.
  • American Booksellers Association Children’s Pick of the Lists
  • Our Choice Committee Special Selection
  • Canadian Children’s Book Centre Our Choice Award
  • Editor’s Choice, BookList (USA)
  • Editor’s Choice, BookLinks (USA)

Published in Australia, the USA, and Denmark, and, in translation, in Japan, China and Austria.

How Smudge Came was made into a film, Smudge, screenplay by Hilary Jones-Farrow, which won her the Humanitas Prize, USA.

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