Future Reflections Winter/Spring 1997, Vol. 16 No. 1

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Book Review

A Girl's Best Friend by Harriet May Savitz

* Review by Peggy Chong

Editor's Note: The following is reprinted from the Fall, 1996, Minnesota Bulletin, a quarterly publication of the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota.

Last summer at our 1996 NFB National Convention in California I purchased a book about a blind girl at a booth in the exhibit hall. It was a paperback meant for sighted children in about the fifth or sixth grade and up. The book is entitled A Girl's Best Friend, by Harriet May Savitz.

There is so little for blind or sighted children to read that presents blindness in a positive fashion so I was not sure if this book would be much better than anything else. But since it was only $2 I decided to purchase it, read it, and find out.

The story centers on Laurie, a 12-year-old blind girl, and her dog. No, not her guide dog; the family dog, who is getting old and may have to be put to sleep. Laurie is a normal 12-year-old, with all the problems, hopes, and dreams of any child that age.

Laurie needs to find a way to earn a little extra money to help pay for the large vet bills if she wants to save her dog. She gets a job at a bike store. Laurie wonders why the owner does not say anything to her about her blindness. She then finds out that he is blind also.

Laurie uses a white cane, writes letters to her grandmother (with her slate and stylus), roller skates, and walks her dog just like all the other kids in her neighborhood. She also has problems in her new school with a substitute teacher who does not understand how to treat the blind student.

Laurie has some uncommon ideas for solving her problems with her teachers. She reins in the school bully, makes new friends, solves her problems with the substitute teachers (and in the process, creates different problems for herself) and, about the dog--well, you'll have to read the book to find out.

The book shows how, for those who are blind, attitudes about blindness play an important part in the success of everything in life. Laurie has to work through her own attitudes about herself when others treat her differently because she is blind.

This book has a lot packed into its 105 pages. I plan to give each of my nieces a copy of the book for Christmas. It will help the younger members of our family grow up with a better philosophy about blind people.

If you are wondering, as was I, how such a book with a good approach to blindness could be written, I noticed that the book is dedicated to the editor of Future Reflections, Barbara Cheadle, and to Serena Cucco, the blind daughter of Carol Castellano, the president of our NFB parent's division in New Jersey. You can have a copy of the book too. Just ask your local bookstore to order it, or write directly to the publisher: Scholastic Inc., 555 Broadway, New York, NY 10012.

By the way, the book costs $3.95 in the bookstore. The NFB National Convention has some great bargains, doesn't it?

Editor's Note: The book has also been Brailled and recorded by the Library of Congress, National Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Check with your regional library for the blind for a copy. My regional library, however, had the title listed as Girl's Best Friend instead of A Girl's Best Friend, but it was the same book.

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