Read Follow My Leader by James B. Garfield Free Online
Book Title: Follow My Leader|
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Reader ratings: 3.2
The author of the book: James B. Garfield
Edition: Puffin Books
Date of issue: December 1st 1994
ISBN 13: 9780140364859
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 393 KB
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For a novel originally penned in 1957, James B. Garfield's Follow My Leader remains surprisingly current and fresh, especially with regard to the presented information and details on how guide dogs (how seeing eye dogs) are trained and the important truth that there generally is a steep learning curve not only for the guide dog, but also for its potential handler (in this novel, young Jimmy Carter who has been blinded in an accident with a firecracker). Much of the presented information on blindness and what Jimmy needs to struggle through and learn in order to become self-reliant and able to function on his own without too much (without constant) exterior support is as relevant now as it was in 1957, and especially the minute analysis of how Jimmy and his guide dog Leader become a proverbial well-oiled team are both interesting and surprisingly similar to today (although it should be noted that some of Jimmy's trials and tribulations are indeed a bit dated, such as the fact that Leader was not originally allowed to enter Jimmy's school, something that would NOT even be considered now, something that would in fact be considered as totally unacceptable in today's world, but especially in Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, in other words, the so-called First World).
That all being said and while I generally both enjoy and much appreciate James B. Garfield's text (both with regard to content, themes, general narrative flow and it having the ability to retain the reader's interest throughout), I do personally find the comparative ease with which Jimmy, his family and his friends both accept his blindness and then so speedily learn Braille more than a trifle hard to fully believe (in other words, it feels a bit unrealistic to me). In the novel, Jimmy (who also appears to learn how to expertly maneuver himself with and by his new white cane within a few days) seemingly learns Braille as a reading method, as a reading strategy almost instantaneously and then in an equally and almost miraculously speedy fashion teaches Braille to his sister, his mother and then his school friends. Frankly, I would consider learning Braille as potentially having the same or at least a similar type of learning curve as trying to train and get used to a guide dog, and the fact that there seems (at least to and for me) to be a bit of a disconnection from reality and almost a sense of the miraculous with regard to Jimmy et al so quickly and seemingly without much required effort not only learning but actually mastering Braille, that does at least somewhat affect my reading pleasure (enough to consider a high three star but not quite yet a four star rating for Follow My Leader, with the necessary caveat that Follow My Leader is still an in most ways a generally excellent and informative novel and remains very highly recommended, especially for and to readers interested in children's literature about challenges and special needs).
Now finally but importantly, Follow My Leader has content-wise (and actually rather naturally for its time of publication) some perhaps rather blatant social and gender stratification present (which can certainly be seen and noticed with regard to Jimmy's relationship to and dealings with his younger sister Midget, and how Jimmy is automatically labeled the man of the house, and even the head of the household after his father's death, simply because he is the son, simply because he is male). And furthermore, the fact that Jimmy's mother is a so-called working mother is depicted not only as extraordinary and new, it is also made abundantly clear that the only reason Mrs. Carter has to have a job outside of the home is due to the fact that she is now a window, that she needs to work in order to financially provide for her family. But realistically and historically, in 1950s America, a mother with a job outside of the home was indeed still rather a novelty (and I for one am more than happy that Follow My Leader has not ever been "updated" to change this fact, to have the novel appear more modern, more akin to, say 1994 when my paperback edition was published, as what makes or rather what might make Follow My Leader feel a bit dated also gives a truthful and realistic portrait of the 1950s, of what the USA was then like, culturally, sociologically and perhaps even religiously).
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