CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 21 . . . . June 23, 2006
According to the Orcabook.com website, the Orca Currents series is "A series of middle school fiction for reluctant readers." Karen Spafford-Fitz has crafted a book full of witty dialogue between middle school kids as well as some well captured conversations between Turk and his mom. The plot is well developed and moves along at a fast pace. This book has a fun feel to it, and I found myself rooting for Turk as he seems like a regular kids who occasionally gets himself into trouble.
The challenge will be how to market this book to the target audience- "reluctant readers." The main character is a male, and most of the minor characters (except Carly) are girl-crazed boys. However, I am not sure that a boy would who falls into the "reluctant reader" category would find this book exciting or interesting to read as the humour is notably un-obnoxious. The interaction between Turk and Chuck is entertaining, but, if reluctant boys were to love this book, it would have to include more rudeness. Boys would fight over who would get to read this book if, for example, a dog chronically farted at inopportune times, barfed on someone's feet, chased someone else's prize winning cat into a pool or tree, became tangled up in a senior's dress, or tried to mate with someone's leg.
What about the girls who reluctant readers? As the book is, I think girls are more likely to like it, but, in this case, there should be more romance. The book is part romance novel as it involves boys trying to meet girls. As well, it includes dogs, an animal about which many girls at one time or another tend to enjoy reading stories. Girls would like the girl character, Carly, and Spafford-Fitz has done a great job creating a very likable character in Carly. However the book does not focus enough on her if it was to be read by reluctant reader girls. I would also expect that there would be more details on the boys' efforts to attract the attention of the girls and on creating an atmosphere of 'crushes' which is certainly not a focus of this book.
Dog Walker is ultimately not about boy-girl relationships, but it is about Turk's realizing that he is not "allergic to his own sweat" and can actually do hard work as well as about his learning to talk to girls (without the aid of a shady dog-walking business).
John Dryden is a teacher-librarian who does not walk dogs in Duncan, BC, but who has experienced all of the traits of other people's rude dogs (listed above).
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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.