________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 3. . . .September 18, 2009


The Trouble With Dilly.

Rachna Gilmore.
Toronto, ON: HarperCollins, 2009.
162 pp., pbk., $12.99.
ISBN 978-1-55468-457-1.

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.

Review by Ruth McMahon.

*** /4

Reviewed from Uncorrected Proof.



Just three more weeks to Christmas –– it wouldn’t be long before she’d get those new hockey skates. They’d probably go on sale right after Christmas, and she should have enough money by then. She’d been saving practically forever –– all her birthday money and most of her allowance. Mom and Dad had chucked in forty dollars to start because that covered second-hand skates.

Gedion. In the next aisle. He picked up a candy bar, looked around quickly, then slipped it into his pants pocket.

It wasn’t the first time he’d done that. When she’d seen him do it before, a few weeks ago, she’d called out in Punjabi, “Mom I saw him put a candy bar in his pocket.” Mom had replied, also in Punjabi, “All right, Dilly don’’t say anything.” And later added, I’ll keep an eye on him. If it gets out of hand I’ll take care of it, but never mind now. Poor boy, they don’t have much money.

Poor boy! Dilly’s fingers tightened around the ladder. Mom and Dad worked hard. If creeps like Gedion didn’t steal, they’d have enough money to buy Dilly new skates……

Before she could stop herself, Dilly called aloud in English, “Mom, I saw Gedion take a candy bar again. He put it in his pocket.

Almost in slow motion, she saw Mr. Imre turn, his mouth open in shock. And Mom……

Mom gave Dilly one look.

It was startled and surprised, and disappointed.

These two excerpts set up the conflict that is central to the story set in this culturally diverse community. Gedion and his family are brand new to Canada and live in the same apartment building as Dilly and her family. Dilly feels guilty about her behaviour pointing out Gedion’s indiscretion. She searches for a way to assuage her guilt and help the Imre family. She decides to throw a Christmas party, and, with the help of her friends, they manage to pull it off –– and all’s well that ends well. (Dilly even ends up with the skates she wants).

     The young characters are full of optimism and determination but not without flaws and shortcomings. They defy stereotypes: Dilly plays hockey while her friend Simon is an amazing boy soprano. Their enthusiasm propels them through many difficulties, and they find their own strengths and resourcefulness and the same in their friends. In other words, they are interesting kids on a mission.

     I think The Trouble with Dilly will be of greatest interest to girls in grades 3-5. It is always nice to come across a gentle, positive, good-will-out type of book.


Ruth McMahon is a professional children’s librarian, storyteller, co-chair of the Rocky Mountain Children’s Choice Book Award, and the mother of two elementary school aged children..

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

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