Literature: Follow My Leader
Follow My Leader
is a book by James B. Garfield, about a boy, Jimmy Carter (no, not that
one), who, during an after-school baseball game, is blinded when one of his friends, Mike Adams, is playing with a firecracker and, in a panic, accidentally throws it at Jimmy. Now having to learn to live with his disability, Jimmy learns how to use a white cane, to read and write Braille, and to work with a seeing-eye dog, whom he names Leader.
Provides Examples of:
- The Ace: Implied to be Jimmy, before his blindness.
- An Aesop: About forgiveness, about looking forward and not wallowing in the past, and about overcoming disabilities.
- Amplified Animal Aptitude: Justified, given Leader's special training.
- A Boy and His X: Dog.
- Broken Ace: Jimmy.
- Canine Companion: Take a wild guess.
- Curiosity Is a Crapshoot: In two instances:
- In the beginning, the boys find a firecracker, implied to be defective, and Mike's playing with it is what leads to Jimmy's blindness.
- Toward the end, when the boys are at Scout camp, they decide to go exploring and see the sun rise, and get lost. Fortunately, Leader brings them back to the camp.
- Disappeared Dad: Jimmy's father was killed in a car accident in the backstory.
- Disability Superpower: While it's not to super-levels, Jimmy does find that some of his other senses are sharpened after he loses his sight (which is Truth in Television).
- The Dog Bites Back: Leader's response to Mike's repeated teasing and provocations.
- Dog Walks You: In Jimmy's case, that's a very good thing.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Jimmy does not want people to feel sorry for him because he's blind.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: Leader really doesn't like Mike, justified since Mike has been provoking him.
- The Fifties: When the book was written. It's easy to miss, however, but for a few scattered slang expressions and the absence of modern technology.
- Heel-Face Turn: Mike.
- Heroic Dog: Justified, with Leader.
- Insistent Terminology: At the training school, all the students, even Jimmy, are referred to as Mr. or Miss (their surname). This is to remind them that they are adults and should expect to be treated as such.
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Averted, with the story's very realistic portrayal of blindness.
- Kick the Dog: The incident where Mike blinded Jimmy was an accident, but then Mike went on to tease and provoke Jimmy's seeing-eye dog, resulting in a well-deserved biting, but leading to Leader's quarantine and putting the dog at risk for more serious consequences. Mitigated by the fact that Mike is just a kid himself, he confesses to Jimmy and turns himself in when he is made aware of the seriousness of the situation, and that there may not have been as much of an awareness of seeing-eye dogs at the time the book was written.
- Meaningful Name: Sirius, which is lampshaded in the book.
- Meaningful Rename: Leader, who was originally named Sirius, itself a Meaningful Name.
- Name's the Same: As stated in the summary, and should become obvious after the first couple of chapters, this Jimmy Carter is not the same as the president. In fact, the book was written a full two decades before the more famous Jimmy Carter became president.
- The author himself is almost a presidential namesake, as only the middle initial differs.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: All the boys in the book, as well as Mack. In fact, we only see Jimmy's given name mentioned once or twice.
- Reality Subtext: Carolyn, Jimmy's little sister, is named after the author's daughter.
- Sense Loss Sadness: Jimmy has to learn to deal with the emotional fallout of losing his sight.
- Schmuck Bait: The firecracker.
- Shown Their Work: The story manages to convey quite a lot of accurate information and awareness about the realities of blindness, justified as the author himself was blind.
- Then Let Me Be Evil: Mike takes a level in jerkass when the other kids ostracize him after the incident that blinded Jimmy.
- Those Two Guys: Chuck and Art.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Mike over the course of the story.
- True Companions: Jimmy, Chuck and Art.
- Truth in Television: The author himself had become blind later in life and had a guide dog named Coral, which provided the impetus for the book's detailed descriptions of blindness.
- Unintentional Period Piece: Sort of. But for a couple of slang terms, the story's setting is revealed not so much by what is present, as what is absent (i.e. the technology).