And Rocky Too by Jayne Woodhouse

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And Rocky Too by Jayne Woodhouse

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: In the sequel to The Stephensons' Rocket we meet all our old friends as Anna tries to balance keeping a confidence with ensuring that someone gets the help they need. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 186 Date: October 2011
Publisher: The Clucket Press
ISBN: 978-0954925697

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We first met Rocky when Anna's father, the feckless Pete, brought him home as the latest in his many money-making schemes which inevitably cost the family dear. This one was to have a longer-lasting effect than most though – through his affection for Rocky, the retired racing greyhound, Pete realised that he had to support his family and Anna's brother Darren made a friend of another boy. Even Wilf, the pensioner who lived next door found hidden talents and it looked as though the family was set fair, right?

Wrong. Pete's pride in supporting his family turned out to be short-lived and when redundancy hit he turned to his old ways of going off to chase the latest pot of gold at the end of a rainbow and left his wife, Jo, to support the family. Darren's friend, Marcus had obviously got problems, but he wouldn't talk about them and he gave up coming home with Darren after school. It's not just Darren who missed Marcus – Rocky was devastated too and his world seemed to fall apart when Pete did his disappearing act.

I love the Stephensons. They're real. There are too many fathers like Pete who take some time to come to terms with their responsibilities and who think that there will be easy money to be made if only they can find out how. It's fortunate they're balanced by women like Jo – not exactly fun-loving, but when the chips are down you know that you can rely on her and she'll do what needs to be done to support her family, but for how much longer is she going to put up with Pete? Darren is a typical lad who deals with problems by slamming doors. He's not yet reached the teenage stage of replying to everything with grunts, but he will. He's prone to exaggeration and very easily hurt.

It's Anna who's the star though. She narrates and she has a wonderful, truthful voice – as kind as she can be and probably just a bit hard on herself. She's got a real problem in And Rocky Too. If you promise someone that you won't break a confidence and you then realise that the only way that they're going to get out of a difficult situation is for you to repeat what they've told you, what do you do? It's not an easy problem for Anna to solve and it's kindly Wilf from next door who helps her to come to terms with what she has to do.

It's a book which will appeal primarily to the tween girl, probably of about eight to eleven, although there will be a lot of boys, particularly if they have a love of dogs, who will empathise with the character of Marcus.

The book is endorsed by the Retired Greyhound Trust who do so much work on behalf of the thousand of racing greyhounds who retire each year and need a home. Have a look at their website.

Girls to whom this book appeals will probably also enjoy Cathy Cassidy's books about the Chocolate Box Girls, Cherry and Skye. Boys and girls will love Born To Run by Michael Morpurgo.

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