________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 11 . . . . January 31, 2003

cover

Song Dogs.

Betty Wilson.
Regina, SK: Coteau Books, 2002.
128 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 1-55050-216-6.

Subject Heading:
Coyotes-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.

Review by Christina Neigel.


**** /4

excerpt:

Slim was having it rough. The demands of eight puppies on Dusty's milk were leaching her very bones. She was always ravenous. Slim worked overtime trying to catch enough game to keep her fed, but nothing he caught was enough, and he had no babysitter to lighten his load.

The lambs began to look very tempting.

Song Dogs is a snapshot of life for a particular pack of coyotes on the Canadian Prairies. Following the style of Jack London's Call of the Wild, Betty Wilson has done an incredible job of uncovering the nature of the rural coyote existence. Her characters are the coyotes themselves. Although each one has been given a name, Wilson has carefully crafted their personalities to remain true to the creatures that they represent.

     Understanding how an animal thinks and acts and then conveying that knowledge to others is a tricky affair. As human beings, we have a natural tendency to instill human qualities in animals. Wilson has carefully balanced this inclination so that the reader is able to identify with the plight of the coyotes and appreciate their remarkable qualities without stepping into fantasy. In this way, Wilson has paid these creatures a respect they seldom receive.

     Wilson does not shield the reader from the harsh realities of life as many of these coyotes meet unpleasant fates. Yet, the reader is able to understand that this is simply the way things are for these creatures. The carefully constructed tone and language of this work are extended through a scattering of lovely penciled sketches.

     This is an excellent book that would be terrific to use for class discussions.

Highly Recommended.

Christina Neigel is the Instruction Librarian at the University College of the Cariboo in Kamloops, BC.

 

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

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.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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