Ford’s motivational story of overcoming bullying and disability will appeal to dog lovers as well as kids coping with bullying.
Some pets really do take after their owners. When the author contracted Friedreich’s ataxia, a disease that erodes her speech and coordination, as a young teen, she endured bullying as well. She found a friend in Izzy, a coonhound that helped her to finally face her disability. When Izzy displayed eerily similar symptoms, they both discovered a great capacity for kindness in the people around them and became famous in the process, educating kids nationwide about bullying. Their intriguing story is more told than shown; many major events read like summaries. The author’s conversational tone softens the issues of disability and bullying for young readers, but it also glosses over incidents that invite deeper reflection. She writes that she viewed a wheelchair as “giving in” for so long that a fall broke her bones—how does she discuss that with wheelchair-bound kids without making them feel that they’re “giving in”? Ultimately, though, the empathetic student feedback punctuating her story supports her opinion that “[s]imply to hear someone talking openly about bullying makes them feel they’ve already been rescued.” Brief individual appendices for kids, parents and educators offer advice for dealing with bullying.
This canine tale is a fine beginning resource for bullied kids and the adults who care about them. (Memoir. 10 & up)