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By a Canadian noted for her appealing portraits of children with problems to solve, a look at the sorts of everyday events that can help overcome fear. Ben (at least eight, judging from his reading ability; no older, if behavior is a clue) is fearful of several things. He's apprehensive at being left for the weekend with an aunt he barely knows, even though she's his favorite author of dragon stories. Just as he begins to enjoy his time with Aunt Rose, another guest arrives: Gully, a large, playful Labrador. Terrified of dogs, Ben retreats, but a series of believable events help him come round. Hana, a slightly older neighbor, loves Gully; her scornful teasing of Ben for his timidity gives him a motive for courage. When it turns out that Hana has fears of her own, it helps Ben put his worries in better perspective. Gully is charming and persistently friendly. And in a delightful scene ensuring Ben's change of heart, he scurries under his bed to hide from a thunderstorm only to find himself preceded by Gully, who is there for the same reason, and they comfort each other. If children aren't so put off by Ben's wimpish weeping in the first chapters that they give up on him, they'll find a likable boy, true to himself yet willing to change when it's the sensible response. A sympathetic, realistic portrayal of an imaginative child learning to deal with his own dragons.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1987
Page count: 123pp
Publisher: Viking