Bailey Finch Takes a Stand
31 Aug. 2021
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A heartwarming story about a young girl taking action to clean up her local creek, from beloved middle-grade author Ingrid Laguna.
Bailey's mum had always said that being by the creek with Bailey and her dad was as good as it gets. She had shown Bailey sap glistening on tree trunks. They had crouched together to nudge a beetle onto a leaf. They had sat on the creek's edge with their bare feet in the water.
It's one year since Bailey's mum died. And her dad doesn't seem to care much about anything. But Bailey still spends afternoons by the creek with her dog, Sheba.
Until Sheba gets sick-very sick-from something she must have swallowed while swimming in the creek. And Bailey notices all the rubbish polluting the waterway.
Between visits to Sheba in the vet hospital, Bailey tries to find a way to make the creek safe for Sheba and other animals. And through her unexpected friendship with Israel, a quiet boy who knows about endangered species, Bailey Finch finds the courage to take a stand.
Bailey Finch Takes a Stand is a moving story about love and loss, about caring for the environment and standing up to make change happen.
InformationBook Type: Junior Chapter
Age Group: 10 to 13 years
Traffic Lights: Green/Amber
Class Novel: Yes
Good Reads Rating: 4.5/5
Literary Rating: 4.5/5
Ever since Bailey’s mum died, her father has been a shell of his former self—he stays in is pyjamas until noon and watches TV, and he doesn’t really listen when Bailey tries to talk to him. At school, her best friend has started hanging out with someone else.
Consequently, Bailey feels completely alone. The one bright spot of her day is taking her dog Sheba on walks down to the creek. But when Sheba swallows a piece of broken glass while swimming, Bailey feels like the last piece of her mum is being taken away.
While Sheba is in hospital, Bailey can’t go to school—it’s too hard. Instead, she goes down to the creek and tries to clean up the mountains of rubbish that have collected at the outlet of a storm drain. There, she meets a boy her age called Israel. Israel is home-schooled, and a fountain of information about etymology and everything in the natural world. He knows just how dangerous pollution is for the environment and volunteers to help Bailey clean the creek up. They have the idea to organise a clean-up day and hand out fliers to get people interested.
Meanwhile, Sheba is getting sicker. Bailey tries to tell her dad about everything she’s doing at the creek, but he says it’s pointless. Sheba and the creek are so closely tied to Bailey’s mother that the situation must be bringing back memories of her loss, and he’s worried about Bailey trying to control things that can’t be fixed.
Despite his certainty that no-one will show up to the clean-up day, 20 people arrive to help—including Bailey’s best friend! Bailey also sees her father in the distance. Instead of coming to help, he turns away. She’s devastated.
She tells Israel that she’s no longer interested in cleaning up the creek because Sheba isn’t getting better and she feels like their efforts are pointless. But Israel shows her a story in the local newspaper about the clean-up day and reminds her that they’re protecting the whole ecosystem—not just Sheba. Bailey discovers that her father is the one who contacted the paper and feels a renewed enthusiasm for her cause. Even better, Sheba recovers well from her surgery and is released from hospital!
A sweet and heartwarming story about standing up for what’s right. Bailey experiences moments of doubt, but with the support of friends and family she’s able to make the world a better place. There’s lots of information about the impact of pollution and urbanisation on the environment, and nuanced perspectives on the grieving process.
Small moments—like Bailey and Israel worrying about the balloons at a kid's party injuring local birdlife, or Bailey struggling to make her mother's pavlova alone—communicate big, complex ideas. Overall, an easy yet enlightening read.
environmentalism, pollution, activism, community, ecosystems, friendship, grieving, family, pets
Language: bloody x 1, bum x 1.