Bailey Finch takes a stand by Ingrid Laguna

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Bailey Finch is living an unrestricted life in the year after her mother’s death, her father so stricken with grief that he can barely get off the couch to wonder where she is or what she is doing.  She roams around the local creek with her dog Sheba, her best friend in the world.  Her mother, an avid birdwatcher, loved the nature that surrounds their house and Bailey recalls the wonderful way she taught Bailey to love it too.

After Sheba swallows some glass and is seriously injured internally, Bailey starts to notice how polluted the creek really is and begins to clean it up. Just as the job starts to seem overwhelming, she meets Israel, a shy boy who is passionate about the environment and begins to help her.  She learns a great deal from Israel about the creatures that live in the creek and how important it is to minimise the pollution in the water.  They hatch a plan to organize a Clean Up day with the local community.  Underlying all this activity is the tension surrounding the fact that Sheba may not recover from her injury and the frustration Bailey feels with her father's ongoing grief and depression.

This novel incorporates the important topics of grief, environmental activism, pets, and friendship so beautifully in a novel that is both gentle and hard to put down. It would make a great class novel for middle primary grades. Teacher's notes are available.

Themes: Dogs, Water pollution, Activism, Friendship, Grief.

Gabrielle Anderson