The Turnarounders and The Arbuckle Rescue

Author: Lou Heneghan


I came across this children’s novel when I was searching online for ‘Books that Contain Interesting Dogs’. (Not the most common way of choosing a book, I know, but it seems to work for me.) But if I had searched for ‘A Great Story that Interweaves Elements of History, Fantasy, Adventure and Friendship’, then I think I would have come up with the same book.


Ralf, his parents having both been killed in a tragic accident involving a dog, some sausages and a two-ton steamroller (not the interesting dog – he appears later), goes to live with Great Aunt Gloria. At first Ralf struggles with his new life; Gloria seems crazily eccentric and as his twelfth birthday approaches, very strange things begin to happen.

Ralf meets other children who are equally bemused by the events that are overtaking them and they slowly realise that in previous times they were bound by never-ending ties of friendship. As members of the Turnarounders gang, they promised long ago that if their powers were needed they would reunite and return to assist those in need. And so they find themselves in a small fishing village at the start of World War II with seemingly insurmountable problems that could change the course of future events if left unchecked.

It is in the village that Ralf is reunited with the final member of the team; the ‘interesting dog’ of my own quest.

‘Ralf stared at the beast in front of him. Two liquid brown eyes gazed back and he felt the cold wetness of a large nose pressed into his hand.
“Cabal?’ Ralf whispered.
The dog huffed as if in agreement and that was all it took. A jigsaw piece that had been missing from Ralf’s heart since the day his parents died, slotted itself back into place.’ (p130)

I enjoyed this book very much. It combines various plotlines in a thrilling narrative in which Ralf’s gang really display their own characters and personalities. The historical links work well as a background to the story and there are hints of older myths that come into play to assist the Turnarounders. I’m recommending this book for readers of 10 years right up to adult readers. (You’re never too old for good stories!)

I’m really looking forward to reading more in the series, and I’ve got my eye on Cabal, (you never know, perhaps he was the dog at the start of the story with the sausages!) as I think he’s going to get even more interesting than I even first imagined.

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