The Reader Teacher Review
I'm delighted to welcome Jane Elson to The Reader Teacher today to share her guest post about peer pressure and the character of Marcus in Moon Dog.
Peer Pressure: a look at how Marcus is judged for what he looks like, not for who he is
Marcus in Moon Dog lived in my imagination for years before I started the book. He provides a lot of the humour in my novel but there are some serious underlying issues running through Moon Dog that touch many young people, especially when they take that first step to secondary school.
Marcus looks so big and tough, he is judged for his appearance again and again and again.
What would that be like? How much danger would that constantly put you in? Especially if you are gentle and kind, and all you long for in life is a dog of your own.
Add to the equation that Marcus’s mum walked out on him, and he’s being brought up by his Nana Sparrow while his father – who suffers from severe depression – spends all his days in bed.
A boy like Marcus is the ideal target for gangs. Young people like Marcus are desperate to belong and a gang promises that. And of course, once you’re entangled in a gang you can’t get out.
Peer pressure is definitely one of the hardest things to deal with when you’re young and vulnerable, and for Marcus it’s relentless, every way he turns the Cinder Street Boys are there waiting! I have worked with many young people who, by bowing to peer pressure, have totally wrecked their lives and it’s heart-breaking to witness. I have run drama workshops in Young Offenders institutes and performed a play about knife crime and run workshops in Pupil Referral Units. It is always the sheep in the gang who gets arrested; very rarely the gang leaders. In Moon Dog, new girl Delilah joins Marcus’s school midway through Year Seven. She is as small as he is tall and she gets treated like a little doll, but inside she is feisty and brave and ‘Tremendous’, as Marcus calls her. They form the perfect friendship. The fact that both children are judged for how they look, and not for who they are inside, creates their strong bond. I asked myself repeatedly how come these characters jumped into my imagination so vividly and where did they come from? Then I realised that as a dyslexic I’m in the perfect position to understand what it’s like to be judged all the time – not for who I am, but for the way I do things. Growing up, I was constantly judged and told I would never achieve anything. Yet inside my imagination, I had a whole world to discover. I constantly have to pinch myself that, to date, I’ve had five books published.
It is my dream that children out there will identify strongly with Marcus and Delilah, and my biggest hope is that they avoid giving into peer pressure themselves.
Many thanks to Hachette, the publisher, for sending me a review copy of this book and for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour. Extra thanks to Jane for her guest post.