Bobby the Plain-Faced Cattle Dog
48pp., pbk., RRP $A14.95
Bobby was the last of Peggy’s litter of Australian cattle dogs to find a new home – some of his brothers and sisters had already moved to new homes – but he was OK with that because he was just a puppy. His mother consoled him and told him not to worry because he would find friends and “be accepted by others.” Because Booby was different. Instead of having the regular markings and patches of his breed, his face was plain.
He didn’t know he was a bit different until the other cattle dogs at his new home, when a farmer finally came to claim him, wouldn’t play with him and this saddened him In fact it wasn’t until he befriended Mother Duck and she had him look in a pool of still water that he noticed the difference. Was he going to spend his life being different and alone? It would seem so until something happens that makes Bobby a hero and finally he is accepted for who he is inside rather than what he looks like.
Based on a real dog and his experiences with other dogs, this story has a strong message of being accepted for who we are rather than what we look like.
Bullying, in all its facets, is certainly at the top of the agenda in these weeks following the suicide of Amy “Dolly’ Everett and there are calls from all quarters for it to be addressed, with the brunt of the expectations falling squarely on the shoulders of schools. While the other dogs don’t nip or bite or otherwise abuse Bobby in what is the overt form of bullying, excluding him because of his looks is just as damaging and it makes a good discussion starter to raise the issue with young children so they can understand that bullying can take many forms and each can have unforeseen and unseen consequences.
Written for young, almost independent readers, this is the first in a proposed series that is designed to teach young children to look beyond exteriors because “It’s what on the inside that counts.” There are teachers’ notes available as well as a plush toy that will give the story extra meaning.