Wednesday, 11 April 2012


CALL ME DROG by Sue Cowing

Parker hasn't had the best time of it recently. His dad left, has a new family now and thinks Parker should go to military school. Of more immediate concern is the fact that he has a talking puppet stuck on his hand. Drog is grumpy, outspoken and appears to enjoy getting Parker in trouble. Parker thinks Drog is ruining his life - but might a puppet who is prepared to speak his mind be just what Parker needs?

This book is incredible and very hard to describe apart from saying what it is not: 
Is it is not like anything I've read before. 

A coming of age tale with a Drog-shaped twist, CALL ME DROG is funny, touching and really makes you think about the toughness of being 11. The ongoing fallout of his parents' divorce and the way it affects Parker is brilliantly written - there are no big shouting matches, just small moments, like his dad's phonecalls, that take on a sharp significance when no one is saying how they really feel. While it may seem on the outside that Parker is coping, it becomes obvious that the effects of the split have seeped into his everyday life, affecting his confidence and ability to stand up for himself. Rather than telling his dad he wants to do something creative, he thinks of going to military school so his dad will be pleased with him. 

I loved the characters whose stories were going on around Parker. There's Wren, his best friend, who is freaked out that Parker refuses to admit to her that Drog is just a puppet, but we wonder if their relationship is starting to shift anyway. There's also Big Boy, an older kid who has been kept back a few years and towers awkwardly over the other sixth graders. But most of all I love Parker. I was completely with him through the whole book and desperately wanted everything to turn out all right for him. 

You may have noticed I have been ignoring one key character - one that is lurking at the top of this page. Well, as Parker finds, the more you try to ignore Drog the louder he gets, so I will let him have the last word. Drog enjoys the limelight, telling stories about his time spent with the emir and violence (occasionally). He is certainly not a fan of aikido, the martial arts class that Parker gets into, where self-defence and not attack is the aim. In some ways the book reminded me a bit of Paul Jennings - the story is anchored in real life, but with one thing twisted. As a result, having a talking puppet on your hand becomes normal and Drog is just a real a character as Parker or Wren. 

Perhaps part of this is the uncomfortable thought that Drog is real in a way - everyone has a Drog - that little part of your mind (or hand) that says everything you think but would never say out loud. 

Or perhaps that's just me and now you think I'm weird. 


Do excuse me, that was my puppet talking - I would never be so rude to you.

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