Hound Dog True. Urban, Linda. Harcourt Children's Books. 149p. 15.99. 9780547558691.
This is the story of Mattie Breen. A shy, ten-year-old girl who's always moving and just wants to be a "custodial apprentice". Hound dog true. Mattie figures if she works with her uncle, Potluck, during recess adn other school-related free time, she can avoid the debilitating effects of being new and friendless and having no one to sit next to or chat with. Then Mattie meets Quincy. Quincy has this unaffected way of talking, like everything and everyone is boring. You know the tone. It's how the word "whatever" became so ubiquitous. Anyways (ha!), to Mattie, Quincy is like this sophisticated teen and she's afraid that she'll be rejected by her so she's determined to avoid her and spare herself the heartache. Unfortunately, her mother has other ideas. So Mattie decides she can be cool and unconcerned. But you can only pretend for so long.
I was a Mattie. Still am. I prefer books to people because I always feel out of my league. Like, why are these sophisticated people talking to me. Or, more often than not, why aren't these sophisticated people talking to me! How can I be more like them? How did they become so awesome? Is there some secret school these people went to that I need to know about? Luckily, since I read a lot, I know all about characters and I routinely try different ones on hoping no one notices and they accept this new "me". It leaves me on edge, always second guessing myself, checking my words before spitting them out. It's why I love texting and twitter. I can be anybody! Hound dog true.
But, enough about me, please! Linda Urban has a passion for what she calls "quiet books", as evidenced by both Hound Dog True and A Crooked Kind of Perfect. This is one of those quiet books that, on the surface, seems like not much is happening, but underneath, you can see the changes in Mattie, the struggles she's facing and attempting to overcome, and you root for her and you pray and you hope and you keep reading because if Mattie can do it, so can you.
For you writers out there, check out Urban's earlier attempts at Hound Dog True. It gives you hope. Don't give up because you didn't wake up with a vision and the story pretty much writes itself. Sometimes the good stuff takes patience and perseverance. Poor Moe.