Review Blog

Jun 08 2011

Against the odds by Marjolijn Hof

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Allen and Unwin, 2011. ISBN 978 1742375083.
(Ages 9+) Recommended. When her dedicated father goes missing in Africa, en route to a hospital that is in desperate need of a doctor, Kiki plays out something she has heard. The odds are that he will survive but in her child's eye she decides that other things dying will increase the odds of him staying alive. So she asks the local pet shop for a dying mouse to look after, and when it does die, she buries it with much ceremony in her garden. She cannot ask her mother about her father as she is too distraught to give her the time. When her grandmother rings every day, often more than not wanting news, her mother becomes even more fraught whenever the phone rings.
Asking the pet shop for an old dog to look after, the attendant becomes suspicious and sends her away. So she takes their pet dog, the old dog she does not like, to the freeway intending to throw it over the edge. She is interrupted in her mission by a man who talks to her about what she is doing and persuades her that this is not the way to go. Her father's rescue and return home brings her to another quandary to sort out, the loss of a limb.
A seemingly simple story, Against the odds underscores the loneliness of the child, caught up in an adult event over which she has no control, and by merit of being young, is left out of the discussions and decisions. It is a cry for a child to be involved to be told the truth about what is happening, as her understanding becomes skewed with the little knowledge that she has.
Fran Knight

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