Friday, February 10, 2012

Fetching by Kiera Stewart

fetchingWhat a great idea!  Use dog training techniques to shape your enemies’ behavior!  Olivia decides she’s had enough of being tormented by Brynne and her mean group of friends.  If she can use training to change a dog’s behavior, why not a person? The first step is: body language.  If you are someone who’s always tormented by bullies, you need to cultivate a strong assertive presence (think Cesar Milan!) –head up, shoulders back. “Basically, the way you walk and stand and talk tells everyone how you feel about yourself  It can say that you’re in charge and you know what you’re doing, or it can say ‘loser.’” Olivia has a hard time convincing her fellow Bored Game Club members that her plan can work, but they gamely (ha ha) try to ignore any bad behavior –even when it makes them feel like wusses.  Then Olivia teaches them about looking for cues that bad behavior is about to occur: “’You know how when a dog starts to get upset, sometimes its hair stands up on its back, or it might start to growl…There’s always some type of cue before an attack, and we’ve got to start noticing these signs…Because once you see the cues, you can create a distraction.’”  They’re having some mild success, but what really gets things going is when Olivia decides they have to step up the training by using treats (gum, cookies, post-it notes) to reward good behavior (anything from Corbin passing by Mandy without making an insulting noise, to actually witnessing one of Brynne’s minions standing up to her).  It isn’t long before the balance of power has shifted: Olivia’s friend Mandy, formerly a social outcast who outlined her lips with Sharpie, is running for class president, and their lunch table is so crowded with popular kids that there’s no place for Olivia anymore.  It also isn’t long until Olivia feels sorry for the formerly-popular, now-outcast Brynne.  When Olivia finds out that her best friend Delia shared some very private information about Olivia’s mentally-ill mother, Olivia turns to Brynne to fill in for the friends she’s turned against.  The class election provides plenty of drama, especially after Olivia tells Brynne the reason for her social downfall: that Olivia trained the other kids to dislike her.  This is a very clever book, and the techniques will be recognized by anyone who has familiarity with dog training.  In the end, Olivia promises to never use dog training on humans again, but I think a little calm, assertive behavior can go a long way towards improving your relations with the people around you!  Review by Stacy Church

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