One In A Million.
Nicholas Read. Edited by Kim Nash. Illustrated by Chum McLeod.
Grades 4 - 8 / Ages 9 - 13.
"The neighbours weren't happy either. They didn't like to complain to the LeClercs because they wanted to be on good terms with them. But when Joey's barking got to be too much, they had to say something. Then the LeClercs got angry with Joey all over again. If only someone had paid attention to him, things would have been different. But the more care and attention Joey needed, the less he received, until even Robert couldn't be bothered with him any more."
This is one dandy little book! Nicholas Read has received awards from both Great Britain and the United States for his involvement with animal welfare. His voice is heard in the "Vancouver Sun" and on the radio concerning animal issues, and his concerns come through clearly in this book.
A pithy sentence on the back cover states: "Told in Joey's own charming and innocent voice, 'One in a Million' is a 'Beautiful Joe' for the '90's." This is an apt description. Joey, a black shepherd cross, is put in an animal shelter as a puppy, but has difficulties being placed in a permanent home. Nicholas Read has managed just the right degree of pathos for today's readers, whereas Marshall Saunders tended to lay it on too heavily a century ago. Children's emotions will be touched by the plight of dogs in shelters, but rational explanations of rules in kennels will prevent them from having agonizing nightmares.
This is an ideal book for teachers to read to a grade four class. It will awaken a love of animals in children, and also has enough suspense in regard to Joey's search for a home that it will grip their attention. This is not to suggest that children couldn't read it on their own, because it is a good "first chapter" book.
Another kudo to the publishers - "One In a Million" is beautifully designed, and remarkably free of typos and grammatical errors. It was a pleasure for this adult to read.
Joan Payzant is a retired teacher/librarian, and UNretired writer, of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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