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Gretchen the Bicycle Dog
     

Gretchen the Bicycle Dog

by Anita Heyman
 

Gretchen, a spunky, lovable dachshund, tells the true story of how she loses the use of her back legs after an accident but triumphs over her disability with the help of a set of wheels. Candid photographs, engaging text, and a scrapbook-style format gives this real-life story an immediate appeal. Gretchen's tale will be inspirational to all as she overcomes her

Overview

Gretchen, a spunky, lovable dachshund, tells the true story of how she loses the use of her back legs after an accident but triumphs over her disability with the help of a set of wheels. Candid photographs, engaging text, and a scrapbook-style format gives this real-life story an immediate appeal. Gretchen's tale will be inspirational to all as she overcomes her challenge and keeps her friendly, funny personality intact.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Heyman (Exit from Home) takes a creative approach to addressing a pet's handicap by allowing the dachshund herself to narrate. Readers first meet the star as she is today: "I am Gretchen, the bicycle dog. However, I wasn't born on wheels." Photographs of the narrator as an irresistible, normal pup ("scarcely higher than a blade of grass") follow, and she describes her "curious nature, which got me into some trouble." One day, she hears the family cat give a loud meow, jumps off the bed to see what's going on, and injures her spine. Photographs show Gretchen curled up in sorrow when she loses use of her hind legs ("For a time, I was very sad"). Her human family helps her cope; photos show them rigging up towels on which she can slide along the floor, and also a sling under her hind legs so she can exercise her front ones. Then one day the family presents her with her "very own custom-made, upholstered, padded cart!" With her hind legs through the padded stirrups, Gretchen can go almost everywhere she once went on her own four legs. The upbeat presentation of snapshots, outlined in bright crayon colors, occasionally punctuated with childlike drawings of a bone or a barking dog, and plenty of humor ("Children said I looked like I was riding a bicycle"), let readers know throughout that the story has a happy ending. This tale of determination and optimism may well inspire not only pet owners but children facing their own challenges. Ages 3-7. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Gretchen the Bicycle Dog looks like a scrapbook but is really a book. Meet Gretchen, the bicycle dog. Gretchen tells her true story through snapshots outlined in what appears to be crayon and handwritten captions. The cover shows Gretchen, a pretty brown dachshund with her tongue hanging out and a bandanna around her neck, facing front while attached to a cart of some sort. Readers will soon discover that the cart is what enables Gretchen to get around. Gretchen didn't always use her little cart though. As a pup, she led an ordinary life, being doted upon by her owners, getting into mischief and playing hard with the other family pet, a cat named Gwydion. One day, while investigating a loud noise, the curious Gretchen jumped from the bed and injured her spine, making it difficult to move around. After surgery, she still couldn't walk with her back legs. Her family made all sorts of little paths around the house, with rugs lined up together so Gretchen could pull herself from room to room. This helped somewhat, but they were all very sad...until her family got her the bicycle cart that allowed Gretchen to run, dig, and play almost like she used to before the accident. This is an inspirational story of love, courage, and coping with disability. The award winning author of two books for young adults, Ms. Heyman lives in New Jersey with her husband, her dog and her cat. 2003, Dutton Children's Books, Ages 4 to 8.
— Cindy Carolan
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-A dachshund tells her story, as she grows from a puppy to dog and finds her place in a loving human family. She leads a contented existence until she suffers a serious spinal injury. This leads to surgery, but Gretchen never regains the use of her back legs. Gradually, the determined canine begins dragging herself around. Her family, recognizing her efforts, orders her a custom-made cart that attaches to her chest and provides a place where most of her posterior weight can rest. With her cart, Gretchen can dig, chase squirrels, and run and play with other dogs. This picture book is designed to look like a scrapbook with crayon-bordered photographs, childlike crayon drawings, and occasional comments in the margins. The design is somewhat sentimental, but the tone is upbeat and positive throughout. The photographs are well chosen and often quite touching, particularly those depicting Gretchen's struggles following her injury. An author's note offers more information on dachshunds, their vulnerability to spinal injuries, and the wheelchair cart. Young readers will welcome this engaging tale of one dog's courage.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A lesson in courage, tenacity, collaboration, and love is often the point of dog stories for children, but this true documentation of one dog's adaptation in the face of a debilitating accident is all the more poignant. Heyman, author of two young-adult novels, incorporates her personal photographs of Gretchen's life and lets the dachshund tell her first-pers . . . er, dog story, and their sometimes grainy, sometimes snap-shot quality enhances the personal connection of storyteller to dog to reader. Anyone who knows dachshunds knows how expressive, warm, and human they can be, like your favorite cat with a wag. They also know how susceptible their long spines are to injury. Gretchen hurt hers in an awkward landing and is shown overcoming depression and learning to get about again, albeit dragging herself on paralyzed back legs. Her loving humans provide her with a bicycle cart and harness and she learns to use it to scoot around outdoors. Life is not the same, but it becomes fun again while she finds new friends and admirers along the way. Thank goodness Heyman had the perspicacity to photograph the transition. Designer Tim Hall finds the perfect upbeat tones with background colors, drawings, and well-cropped snaps with crayon-traced borders. Children discovering Gretchen will not miss the life lessons of accidental injuries and the differences they cause. (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-9)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780525470663
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
03/24/2003
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
10.00(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
760L (what's this?)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

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