________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 21. . . .June 13, 2008


The Trouble with Cupid.

Laura Langston.
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2008.
251 pp., pbk., $11.95.
ISBN 978-1-55455-059-3.

Subject Headings:

Grades 8-10 / Ages 13-15.

Review by Jen Waters.

** /4



Erin was still digesting the fact that Zach Cameron had actually winked at her. And whispered in her ear. She didn't want to look at anything. But the screaming and the laughter brought Erin crashing down to earth.

Cupid, the mascot of Carson Heights, had raced into the kitchen and grabbed a barbeque chicken leg from the warming tray. With his prize clenched proudly between his teeth, the bulldog now ran in circles around the cafeteria. When someone came close, he took off in the other direction, all overbite, wrinkles and attitude.


Erin, the dog-training heroine of Langston's earlier novels A Taste of Perfection and Perfect Blue, is now in Grade 9 at Carson Heights Junior High in North Vancouver, BC. Her upcoming spring school dance is in jeopardy because the school lacks the funds due to renovations, but the school enters a competition for Woofer's Dog Food Corporation to have the winning dog (possibly belonging to one of their students) be the new mascot of CheeseBarkers, a coveted honour which comes with a prize of $5000, plus a cameo appearance in the new music video by the Welsh rock band Tawp Dawg. While Erin has high hopes that her three legged retriever Mr. Lavender Blue will be the nominated dog, it is instead Cupid, the crazy school mascot bulldog, who is chosen for the competition, and Erin must use her dog whispering skills to help train the rambunctious dog to perform a flashy dance routine in a video.

     This comes as no easy task to Erin, who is struggling in Math, spends her afternoons volunteering at the SPCA, and generally salivating over the dreamy Zach Cameron. To make matters worse, lately her best friend Rachel has started hanging out with the "popular" mean girls and has not been very supportive to Erin. Inevitably Cupid becomes one of the finalists and nearly wins the competition, but Erin (and the dog's owner, school secretary Miss Pickering) is given the ultimatum that Cupid will need some doggy plastic surgery before being considered ,and she takes a stand against animal cruelty and the entire competition. Tawp Dawg commend Erin for her strength, denounce the contest and instead donate the needed money to the school, as well as $10,000 to the SPCA on Erin's behalf.

      While the story is at times silly, The Trouble With Cupid will appeal to preteens and young teens who love dogs, and girls will appreciate that Erin not only takes a stand for animals but also turns down the offer of her previous dreamy crush Zach when she finds out he drinks alcohol and isn't as dreamy as she thought. Granted these kids are only 13 and 14, but some older readers might find it hard to believe that Erin is shocked over the presence of alcohol at a house party, as, while I am by no means an advocate for teenage drinking, I am fully aware that it does happen at this young age. I also questioned the believability of the school mascot bulldog Cupid being the culprit behind recent thefts at the school, or the fact that a school would have a dog running the halls at all, for that matter. But that being said, readers may find Cupid "a teeny weeny bit beautiful, in an ugly sort of way," just like Erin does, and look forward to any future adventures Langston has planned for them.


Jen Waters is the Teen Services Librarian at the Red Deer Public Library in Red Deer, AB.

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

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