CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 11 . . . . February 3, 2006
Any pre-teen girl or anyone who’s ever been one, will identify all too well with Erika’s feelings when she is the object of subtle female bullying. Named “Dog Girl” by her rival, Erika struggles to deal with the derogatory looks, name calling and insecurities which arise within her from an all too common experience of pre-teen girls. She is torn by her love of her family’s numerous pets adopted by her veterinarian mother and the shame of being nicknamed “dog girl.” Written for the BC SPCA Kids’ Club and in memory of a friend who died trying to rescue a stray dog, the love and intimacy with which Pearce describes the dogs in this book is evident. The humorous personalities of Erika’s dogs are based on the real life incidents of pets which belong to Pearce’s friends. However, the detailed explanations of the mundane habits of these canine companions lose focus on the bigger issue of the story. At times, it feels like you are reading a manual on pet care. Though intended as a first look at animal issues, it focuses better on its secondary theme.
Female bullying is a serious and more common issue which affects the lives of many upper elementary girls/junior high girls. This novel provides a realistic examination of the feelings and actions often shown by bullies and people they hurt. A self-confident new friend, a lost dog, a pesky boy, (who seems to turn up wherever she goes), an aware teacher and caring parents, all help Erika to learn how to deal with a bully and develop a better sense of self, which is always tentative at this age.
This is a recommended read for any girl who is dealing with bullying.
Fern Reirson is the teacher-librarian of Jackson Heights School in Edmonton, AB, and on the executive of the ATA Learning Resources Council.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.