________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 21 . . . . June 21, 2002

cover Give Maggie a Chance.

Frieda Wishinsky. Illustrated by Dean Griffiths.
Toronto, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2002.
32 pp., cloth, $18.95.
ISBN 1-55041-682-0.

Subject Headings:
Cats-Juvenile fiction.
Teasing-Juvenile fiction.
Stuttering-Juvenile fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.

Review by Catherine Hoyt.

Reviewed from prepublication copy.

*** /4


Maggie walked to the front of the class.
Her heart thumped like a drum.
Her knees quivered like jelly.
Her mouth felt as dry as a desert.

Maggie opened her mouth
but nothing came out.
Not a word. Not a sound.
Not even a whisper.

Maggie is very excited to show her new teacher what a good reader she is. So, Maggie is the first to volunteer to read aloud at the front of the classroom. But suddenly she is unable to utter a word, and Maggie is embarrassed beyond belief. Maggie wishes she could disappear; she imagines the floor swallowing her up, a rocket blasting her to Mars, and a leopard genie making the class disappear. Over eager Kimberley doesn't even give Maggie a chance before she volunteers to take Maggie's place and does a wonderful job of course. Kimberly's bragging only makes Maggie feel worse. Maggie unsuccessfully tries again and again to read aloud in class. Although Maggie tries not to let Kimberly's teasing bother her, Maggie has almost given up hope. When Kimberly starts to tease Sam because he stutters, Maggie immediately finds the courage to stick up for her seatmate. Then Maggie is given the chance to read aloud again, and she is able to face her fear. Maggie ignores Kimberly and focuses on her friend, Sam. Finally Maggie is able to show her teacher and herself what a good reader she really is.

internal art

     Most school aged children and adults will be able to identify with this storyline. Readers will sympathize with Maggie's dilemma because there always seems to be a "Kimberly" in each classroom. Author Frieda Wishinsky has Maggie try and fail a few times before help from her friend Sam and a little courage let Maggie overcome her fears. This book will serve as a good example to struggling students not to give up but to keep trying. Public speaking is a very common fear, one that many children carry forward into adulthood.

     Griffith's soft muted watercolour illustrations depict cats in this story as the main characters. These little cats have many human details like bows in their hair and ankle socks with little black Mary Janes on their feet. Maggie is portrayed as a timid orange tabby cat, but Kimberly, a beautiful longhaired fluffy grey cat, is given a stuck-up air. Kimberly's rude, snide remarks are wonderfully shown in her facial expressions. These felines are nicely done, but I found Griffith's animals in the "Loon Lake" picture books much more detailed and enjoyable.

     School and public libraries always need another addition to their collections dealing with fear, teasing and courage. This would be a good book to use in classrooms to start a discussion about teasing with young primary students. Give Maggie a Chance is also a nice choice for independent readers.


As the result of an exciting move, Catherine Hoyt is now the Reference Librarian at the Nunavut Legislative Library in Iqaluit, Nunavut. However, she enjoys volunteering at the local public library in the newest capital in Canada.


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

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364