CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 1 . . . . September 3, 2004
In this autobiographical novel, Ricky, Eric Walters tells the story of Ricky, an eighth grader with a menagerie of animals (including a caiman) and a big heart. In many ways, Ricky is a typical eighth grader except that he has big responsibilities at home due to his mother's death. He has an amazing knowledge of animals, and he is so smart that he skipped a grade in school. Ricky assists his science teacher, Mr. Johnston, in caring for the animals in the school's science labs until one morning when the school arrives to learn that vandals have cruelly killed or maimed the animals including Bogart, a boa conscrictor whom Mr. Johnston must euthanize. Knowing firsthand how important these animals, especially the snake, were to their teacher, Ricky and his friend Augie set in motion a plan to raise $400 and purchase a new snake for Mr. Johnston as a surprise.
does a commendable job with his characters. They are believable and
easily liked. Ricky is a bright boy with a shy streak, especially
around girls. He longs for more family contact than he receives from
his grown sister and his overworked father. He compensates with his
numerous animals and his friendship with Augie, who is a kid with
great charisma but who finds academics difficult. He helps Ricky deal
with his shyness around girls and receives assistance in his studies
from Ricky. The absence of Ricky's mom is a point of question between
the boys since Ricky avoids the inevitable questions whenever they
are asked. Augie, however, has an intuitive sense of what the loss
of his mom means to Ricky. The bonds of their friendship are indeed
strong. As Walters, through Augie, describes it, "We both take
care of each other, just in different ways. And you know what else
we have in common? Neither of us would ever hurt the other one, at
least not on purpose, right?" While the poignancy of this scene
where the boys discuss their friendship is readily apparent, it is
not melodramatic. Young male readers will understand the feelings
shared by the two friends as if it was a relationship of their own
Ricky is an enjoyable story. In a very real way, it helps affirm one's belief in the basic goodness of mankind, especially in the face of despicable acts. Our young hero and his friend show how small acts of kindness compound to have a bigger and more substantial impact. Young readers will not only enjoy a good story from reading Ricky but also will receive an important message that they too can make a difference.
Gillian Martin Noonan is a teacher living in Old Perlican, NL.
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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.
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.