D is for Dudley & Other Nature Tales by Ron Chandler, paperback, 74 pages, published in 2015.
D is for Dudley & Other Nature Tales is a collection of short stories, mostly about animals and the environment.
The first couple of stories in the book were too short and lacked substance. This didn’t bode well for the rest of the book, but I continued hoping to find that the other stories were better. There wasn’t one I liked much until about half way through the book, with the title story, “D is for Dudley”. It was a little unbelievable, I would definitely be suspicious if my kids volunteered to do the washing!, but I liked the theme. Striving to protect the environment and animals it contains, is quite noble, and these kids do their best to save the extremely large terrapin from hunters within the bay.
The best story in this collection was by far “Chicken Feathers”. It is the story of a young girl who grooms a rooster for the county fair. She is competing against her much older and more experienced neighbour. Despite her young age, she believes in her ability to win, and even when her rooster is looking scraggly, she doesn’t lose heart, she tries even harder to get him in shape. This is a lovely lesson showing that determination and persistence are often rewarded. The only downside to this tale is a slight undertone of racism.
It states in the blurb on the back of the book that the stories “celebrate nature”, but these stories don’t so much do that as they do showcase humanity’s depravities. Throughout the book there were people behaving badly. There were alcoholic parents, bickering couples, dog fighters, hunters, and animal abusers. I found most of the stories to be very depressing and often distasteful. One story made an offhand comment about a twelve year old girl skipping meals to stay skinny. This is not only awful and inappropriate, it also had no relevance to the story. In another tale a boy looked a girl over from her toes to her shoulders in an appreciative way. Again, this was an unnecessary addition to the story, and it’s quite sexist, it’s as if she had no face. There are also girls being told that they will want to dress up and go to balls, instead of doing “tomboy” things. I found there to be a sexist vibe throughout the book, which was disappointing. I also felt that hunting for sport, which is something I’m opposed to, was condoned as a suitable activity for kids.
This book is aimed at kids aged 8 to 12, but I really can’t recommend it to anyone. Even aside from the sexism throughout the book, most of the stories weren’t particularly good. They all lacked description and depth, and sometimes even a clear direction. Since I was expecting a book full of the gloriousness that is nature, I found this to be very disappointing indeed.
*I received this book from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.