What to Read After... Holly Webb 12/05/21
Girl with a White Dog
Publisher: Catnip Publishing
Jessie is fed up: her dad's business has gone bust; they've had to leave behind their family home; and her cousin Fran - who used to be her best friend - is ignoring her, in favour of the cool crowd at school. An unexpected bright spot comes in the shape of Snowy, the beautiful white puppy she discovers at Gran's house after school one day, but even her excitement about finally having a dog is clouded when Gran becomes confused and ill, and starts saying strange things. Why is she so worried about Snowy being shot?
When Jessie begins to study the rise of fascism in 1930s Germany at school, the past and the present unexpectedly begin to collide. Gradually, Jessie comes to realise that Gran is haunted by something terrible from her past, which no one else knows about. Can Jessie help her set the events of the past to rest? And what might Gran's story mean for Jessie, and those around her?
This deceptively simple little story is powerful and thought-provoking. Told directly in the first person, from Jessie's point of view, it draws on the fairy-tale tradition to explore a host of complex subjects, such as intolerance, difference, fear, courage and moral responsibility, with sensitivity. A moving story about a young girl coming to understand the complexity of the world around her, it will help older children and young teens to have a deeper, more personal understanding of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.
The Nazi storyline presents an ideal context for considering attitudes to diversity and in particular disability. It's a book which might just encourage the reader to question whether some of yesterday's prejudice and discrimination isn't still rife today. Cleverly, the book also features a very positively depicted disabled character in the form of Jessie's good friend Kate, a sporty, opinioned and extremely likeable character, whose wheelchair is largely irrelevant to the plot.