HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Casey and The General
Author: Priscilla W. Dundon
Illustrator: Sue Lundgren
Publisher: Weekly Reader, 1984
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: **** 4 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Dundon, Priscilla W. Casey and The General (Published in 1984 by Weekly Reader Books, an imprint of Field Publications, Middletown, CT 06457). Eleven year old Casey Cooper lives with her dad, a lawyer, and mom. Most people would think that her life is great. She has her own room and her own TV with more toys, games, dolls, books, and clothes than she could possibly use. However, she is not happy. First, she’s plump—chubby—fat; the kids at school call her names like Blimp, Fatso, Tubby, and Two-ton Casey. Also, she wants a pet and can’t have one—cats scratch furniture, dogs make stains on rugs, and horses aren’t allowed by her neighborhood association. And now, her mom has taken a job as assistant curator of the art museum in Rickford. Casey has to have a baby-sitter, Mrs. MacPhearson, so she eats even more because of her unhappiness and thus grows even fatter.
Finally, Mrs. Cooper puts Casey on a diet and makes her ride her bicycle every day. One day, Casey rides by the farm of Mrs. Peabody who has a horse named General MacArthur, lives in a house with lots of old furniture and paintings, and is also rather fat. Casey begins learning how to ride “The General” but finds out that Mrs. Peabody is in danger of losing the farm and her horse because she can’t pay the mortgage to the bank. Casey tries to help by having a tag sale and even raffling off her bicycle, but that’s not nearly enough. What can Mrs. Peabody do? Will she lose her home? Or is there another way to save it? This book tackles several issues, such as obesity, overeating, and school bullying. Actually, it seemed to me not so much a story that conveys a message as a message that someone had to create a story for.
There are good points, especially in the end where Casey learns how to stop being selfish and how to start liking herself. However, some parents may want to watch out for a few items. Casey does a little lying along the way. The parents of her schoolmate Sally Erwin are getting a divorce, which explains why Sally is so nasty. And Casey’s own parents do some arguing about her mom’s new job. In fact, there may be a bit of latent politically correct feminism. Mrs. Cooper wants the job because she’s “tired of shopping and cleaning and playing tennis and going to the hairdresser.” At first, Casey and her dad don’t like it, but they eventually learn that “she liked her job because it made her feel good about herself.” There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it could leave the impression that a woman can’t “feel good about herself” by just being a homemaker but has to get out into the work force to find her self worth. Well, I guess to each her own.