When sixth-grader Gene Tucks moves south, she dreads being the new kid at school and almost everything else about her life as a “nobody.” But what she dreads most is the hundred-day journal-writing assignment her teacher has given the class. His brilliant idea is to have the journals locked in the town museum’s vault for forty years so that future grade-sixers can read them.
At first, Gene has trouble writing to someone who isn’t even born yet. But little by little, Dear Nobody becomes Dear Somebody, who evolves into Dear Toni. And bit by bit, Toni, a good listener, becomes a best friend to whom Gene tells everything. And, there’s lots to tell. Gene’s family is in transition to say the least. Her dad is looking for work, they are moving — again, her brother is the bane of her existence, and, more than anything else in the world, Gene wants something she can’t have — a dog. Toni is the first to learn that Gene is moving to a rent-free empty apartment at the back of a gas station, so her dad can manage it. And wonder of wonders, the owner’s dog needs looking after. Not just any dog; a St. Bernard who happens to have three pups. Through Gene’s one hundred entries the whole story unwinds and in the end, just like Toni does forty years later, we have come to know one of the freshest, funniest characters to grace the pages of a book in a very long time.
Decorated with doodles by the author, Dear Toni has the look and feel of a journal, but the heart of a special 12 year old.
In reprinting Dear Toni by Cyndi Sand-Eveland, we applied the incorrect award designation to its cover. Although the book was on the short list, it was not the winner of the 2009-2010 Hackmatack Award. The winning English Fiction title was Dog Lost by Ingrid Lee (Scholastic). We regret the error and apologize to all concerned.
About Cyndi Sand-Eveland
Tundra author Cyndi Sand-Eveland has worked with elementary-aged children for the past fifteen years as a teaching assistant for students with learning disabilities and ESL students. She has led storytelling and journal writing workshops for primary and intermediate students. She has also worked as a freelance storyteller, children’s library assistant, and sign language interpreter. Dear Toni and her original poetry were recently included in a workshop to inspire students to begin their own creative adventures in storytelling and journal writing. She currently lives on a farm just outside of Nelson, BC.
“Gene’s story is told in a marvelously authentic voice; delightful doodles accompany the text, which appears printed on faux notebook paper. A great addition to middle-grade collections.”
“Both the text and the presentation are highly accessible…. This book would be a great resource for introducing a journaling, time capsule or creative writing project….”
“The novel is written in diary format and peppered with often humorous sketches depicting the various activities, thoughts, pets, and people that make up Gene’s life. Girls, especially, will relate to the protagonist and feel as if they are reading personal notes from a close friend.”
—School Library Journal
From the Hardcover edition.
WINNER Silver Birch Award for Fiction