________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 19 . . . . May 15, 2009

cover Finders Keepers.

Andrea Spalding.
Toronto, ON: Sandcastle/Dundurn, 1999/2008.
143 pp., pbk., $11.99.
ISBN 978-1-55002-828-7.

Subject Headings:
Piegan Indians-Juvenile fiction.
Learning disabilities-Juvenile fiction.
Racism-Juvenile fiction.
Schools-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by Elaine Fuhr.

***½ /4


"That's just it." Danny thumped his knee in frustration. "I can't do it! I know lots of stuff but I can't do it. The words move on the page, or my writing gets all mixed up, letters go the wrong way round and I can't remember how to spell...and..." He gulped. "Everyone laughs when I can't remember my multiplication tables."

His mother reached in her pocket and passed Danny a tissue. He blew his nose noisily. "Mr. Berg says I'm not trying," he continued. "But I am, I really try!" He paused, ashamed. "The kids call me Dummy Danny. I'm just one big Ukrainian joke."

Danny knows so many things. He is interested in just about everything, especially the history of the area around his home and the first people to live there, the First Nations people. Joshua, a young boy from the Peigan Reserve, becomes Danny's friend. Joshua is different because, unlike most of Danny's classmates, he does not seem to think that Danny is stupid. Joshua enjoys his company and the neat things that Danny can show him. Danny meets Joshua's grandfather who tells him that he has "the gift to see," and, truly, he begins to see the world in a different way. After Danny finds a very special artifact, Joshua takes him to meet his mother who is an archeologist, and Danny finds out just how valuable his treasure is to the native culture.

     Andrea Spalding has used her very special storytelling skills to write this novel about a young boy who is learning disabled. She so clearly sees the pain that this youngster, and many like him, endure each day as they stumble through an education system that is only just learning how to help them. Her attention to detail forms rich and colourful pictures in the minds of the readers as they learn about the Native culture. One can feel the piercing stare of the eagle and the wonder that Danny feels as he watches this magnificent creature. This is a novel that should be read in the classroom because there is still need for understanding children who face the trials experienced by these very special students, as well as a need for acceptance of them. Thank you to author, Andrea Spalding, for her sensitive and insightful view of the world of children with learning disabilities.

Highly Recommended.

Elaine Fuhr is a retired teacher of elementary and middle school in Alberta.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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