The Bravest Word

Kate Foster

The Bravest Word
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The Bravest Word

Kate Foster

A rescue story of love and trust between a boy and a dog from the talented author of Paws.   

Do you hear that? You’re Cliff now, and your life is going to get better, I promise.   

When eleven-year-old Matt finds Cliff, a hurt, neglected dog abandoned in the bush, he knows the brave little pup needs saving. He wants to help. But can he?   

Lately, Matt has had way more bad days than good days. The pieces of his life just don’t seem to fit together any more and he doesn’t understand why. He’s finding it impossible to concentrate at school and has lost interest in the activities he used to love. Plus, he’s tired all the time.   

Matt’s too afraid to share what’s really going on in his own head with anyone. His friends and family will never understand … maybe it’s not only Cliff who needs saving.


Matt has just started a new year at school; he is surrounded by his mates, he adores soccer (and is the star player) and he is totally loved and supported by his parents. Matt has everything he needs. Right? So why does he feel distracted all the time, or on the verge of panic one minute and exhaustion the next? Sometimes he even feels like he’s about to cry, but he has no idea why. And now even the idea of playing soccer makes him feel sick. Matt is desperately trying not to let anyone down and his Mum keeps telling him to ‘just get back to the old Matty’ – so why can’t he?

Tackling the topic of childhood depression is a challenge, especially when mental illness is often dismissed within our society, but the author, Kate Foster, is a deft hand at helping readers learn about difficult emotions and to comprehend them with honesty. In The Bravest Word she uses a relationship that Matt forms with an abandoned dog he calls Cliff to tackle this subject. As he cares for this mistreated animal, Matt and the reader come to realise he has a few things in common with Cliff, and that it is okay to ask for help, even when it is scary to do so. For ages 9+.

Claire Atherfold is the manager of Readings state library

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