When Big Toby and his father, Bonehead throw Belle out of their truck at a convenience store, 12 year-old Darcy and her Auntie Ellen rescue the frightened puppy. They show Belle kindness and offer her a life with love and security. However Belle thinks no human is worth trusting. Darcy’s family and their pets, including a cat, try to show Belle otherwise. Will she realize that though she cannot change her past, she can put it aside and build a future full of happiness? When Bonehead and Big Toby reappear and threaten Darcy, the girl’s survival depends on the choice Belle makes.
Written in the first person from a dog’s point of view, Belle’s Star empowers young people who have escaped abuse and bullying to build new lives. Adventure and colorful characters help these children face painful issues, and find the strength to heal.
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A herding dog who knows nothing but abuse and neglect is dumped by her cruel owners, who do not need her. She finds herself with Darcy, a spunky soccer-playing girl, and her Aunt Ellen. They show Belle kindness, but she has serious trust issues.
Aunt Ellen’s cat and dog try to convince Belle trusting people is okay. Because she begins to like these animals, Belle decides to hang around Ellen’s yard. She also proves herself useful, herding Ellen’s dog out of the flower garden when he tries to dig there. Just as she thinks she’s found an oka spot to live, Ellen’s husband, Jim, accidentally stomps on Belle’s paw. Terrified, she bites him. Bad choice. The dog and cat tell her she could have stepped away from Jim. Not fond of animals, he insists Belle go to the pound. Instead, Ellen sends her to Darcy’s house. Belle realizes her mistake, and resolves to do better when bullies come around.
Belle likes Darcy’s mother, but children have mistreated Belle, so she fears Darcy. Darcy’s puppy tries to convince Belle she’s safe. Belle falls asleep, too exhausted to argue. Awakening from a nightmare, she finds her teeth clamped on Darcy’s ankle. Belle again fears she will go to the pound for sure this time, since she has mishandled herself again. But to her surprise, Darcy apologizes for startling her. Belle begins to like Darcy.
Darcy’s dad arrives. When he treats Belle kindly, she learns that not all men are cruel. She begins liking Darcy’s whole family, and tries hard to get along with them.
Darcy and her parents take Belle to the park, where they meet Ellen, Jim, and pets. Belle is thrilled to see Ellen and the other animals, but she refuses to go near Jim.
The adults settle on a bench to talk. Belle and the animals wander to the lake, with Darcy. Belle’s former owners show up. The mean spirited pair intimidate Darcy and steal Belle. Belle escapes, and with her friends, devises a plan using her herding skills, to rescue Darcy.
When the plan succeeds, Belle realizes she can handle anything--even Jim--as he finally gives her a pat.
Belle’s Star Connie Gotsch
The Terrible Truck Ride
Would he kill me? I wouldn’t put it past Bonehead. He reeked of anger, a stench
like burned pepper. He’d smelled like that since after lunch, when Mrs. Bonehead beat
him at a card game.
He was also driving his truck funny. It drifted back and forth, instead of barreling
straight down the highway. When it veered, he clutched the steering wheel and muttered.
I couldn’t catch what he said, but each time he opened his mouth, his breath stank
like rotten fruit. When he smelled like that and was mad, anybody nearby better run,
especially a dog, like me.
Not that I could. I was trapped on the truck seat between him and his boy, Big
Toby. If I moved, one or the other would pound me.
Big Toby burped, breath stinking like he had a sour stomach. Big Toby always
had a sour stomach, because he had one mood -- bad.
He also ate nonstop, like some caterpillar gathering energy to spin a cocoon.
That’s why his cousins called him ‘Big Toby,’ I guess. Right now, he gulped popcorn
from a bag, then slurped cola from a bottle, as Bonehead steered toward town.
I listened to Big Toby chomp-chomping. The noise was gross, because he chewed
with his mouth open. Still the sound made me hungry. I hadn’t eaten in a long time. My
tongue slipped out of my mouth and slid over my chops.
“You’re not gettin’ any, you stupid mutt,” Big Toby said with his mouth full. He
thrust the bottle at my head. I flattened myself on the seat. The bottle brushed my ear, but
didn’t hurt me.
Bonehead swatted my shoulder, then glared with blood shot eyes. “Don’t even
think of sneaking food under my nose.” He grabbed some of Big Toby’s popcorn.
Diving to the truck’s floor, I scrunched under the seat. Bonehead hated anyone
who outsmarted him.
Big Toby stuffed more kernels into his mouth, until his cheeks looked like they
would burst. White specks spewed from his lips, clinging to his face. Against his olive
skin, the debris looked like the scabs ticks left when they bite.
He swiped at the mess with his forearm. Then, unable to stuff anything more into
his mouth, pulled a box from his pocket, and began punching its buttons.
Oh-oh. That box was also a game. If Big Toby didn’t play it well, his mood would
get worse than it already was. He’d wallop anything within reach. I sighed. Why were he
and Bonehead so mean?
The box jingled. Little animals danced on it. He pushed more buttons. The box
made a zapping sound. The animals disappeared in a white flash. Big Toby chuckled.
Was he killing them in his play? Probably. His dull green eyes reminded me of
weed-choked water, where everything had died. Love and respect did not live in that
gaze. I had the feeling he’d kill anything, if he got the chance.
I lay still, wishing animals didn’t understand People Language better than jerks
like Bonehead and Big Toby thought we could.