Call Me Drog is a refreshing new novel for the classroom and would work well with Lower Key Stage three classes. It is a different and absorbing book that will appeal to both boys and girls.
The story is centred around and told through the eyes of an 11-year-old, small-town American boy named Parker. He and his best friend, a girl called Wren, find an ugly green puppet in the rubbish. Despite Wren’s warnings, Parker picks up the puppet and takes it home. He places it on his left hand and finds that the puppet can talk!
The puppet informs Parker that his name is Drog. Drog is bad-tempered and rude and, despite trying to cut him off and drown him, Parker cannot remove him from his hand. Of course, nobody believes Parker cannot remove the foul-mouthed Drog, and things become complicated for young Parker.
Parker already has issues with his father and his mother becomes increasingly worried about him. He feels he is losing the friendship of Wren and the suspense grows when a stranger begins to follow him …
The book is exceptionally well written and the story is much more than just a young boy trying to free himself from a puppet.
Issues of identity and how to cope with bullies in school, not fitting in and losing friends all become interwoven into the storyline. Divorce and the effects it has on both parents and children are dealt with very cleverly.
There are key questions that come to mind while you read and these provide natural teaching points as the novel progresses.
Will Parker ever be able to remove the puppet?
If so, how will he do it?
Will Parker regain his friendship with Wren?
Will Parker find an ally who believes him?
Will Parker be able to sort out his issues with his dad?
Call Me Drog would be an excellent class reader to add to any English Department’s Key Stage 3 programme of study.
Richard Stroud is a senior English teacher and the Literacy Coordinator at Lliswerry High School in Newport South Wales, which is an 11–18 urban comprehensive. He has two beautiful daughters and lives at the foot of The Sugar Loaf Mountain in Abergavenny. He is currently writing his first novel.