BOOKS: Listen

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2006:

by Stephanie S. Tolan
Harper Collins Publishers
(1350 Avenue of the Americas,
New York, NY 10019), 2006.
197 pages, paperback. $15.99.

Charley, 12, is trying to come to terms with the death of
her mother in a car accident that leaves Charley herself struggling
to learn to walk again. Compounding her sense of isolation is the
desertion of her best friend.
While exercising her damaged leg in the woods near her home,
Charley finds a feral dog. Not knowing why, she feels an intense
need to tame this dog, take him home, and care for him. Because
she has never had a dog before, her father tries to talk her into
getting a puppy. But Charley only connects to this particular
animal, whom she names Coyote, spending weeks trying to get close
to him.

She tries food as an inducement, but telepathic flashes show
her that the dog was once caught and locked away with the lure of
food, and so she feels she has to try something else. On the
Internet she discovers Jane Goodall and her experiences in becoming
acquainted with the wild chimpanzees at Gombe. Charley studies the
Goodall methods and tries to use them with Coyote.
Further inspiration comes from a book of nature photographs
that her late mother had published. All of her photos were taken in
the woods around their home. Alongside each photo is a poem or
quotation, and from these Charley also finds ideas about how to tame
Coyote. The photos encourage Charley to explore the woods, to
experience the beauty of nature’s garden, and to appreciate
compassion for all animals, as Charley’s mother did.
–Beverley Pervan
South Africa

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