Tamora Pierce has been one of my favorite authors since I discovered The Song of the Lioness Quartet. I am including Terrier because it is the first book in her most recent series (all of her books are excellent). Terrier was also the 2007 winner of the ALA Best Books for Young Adults.

Author: Tamora Pierce
ISBN-10: 037581468X ISBN-13: 9780375814686
City and Publisher: New York: Random House
Copyright Date: 2006
Author’s Website: http://www.tamora-pierce.com/

Reader’s Annotation: Bekka Cooper grew up in the worst slums of Corus. Now that she’s old enough to be a trainee in the Provost’s guard, she can finally do her best to protect her neighbors, who are more used to being protected by the king of thieves than the police.

Plot Summary: Although sixteen year old Bekka Cooper is painfully shy, she cannot stand by when people prey on the weak. Now that she’s a trainee in the Provost’s Guard, she can finally help the people who she grew up with in the worst slums of Corus. During a time when police work is available only to those who can pay for it, her sense of justice, as well as her ordered mind and secret talents, give her a fierce edge. With the help of her friends, thieves with hearts of gold, and the Provost’s Dogs she is apprenticed to, she takes on some truly heinous criminals.

Critical Evaluation: Tamora Pierce is excellent at creating both likable characters and an intriguing believable world, and then weaving the two together to sucker the reader into reading four or five hundred pages all in one day (even if staying up until four in the morning is involved). Bekka Cooper is a strong female character. She is incredibly shy but doesn’t let it get in the way of following her developing sense of justice. Terrier is also an interesting look at the evolution of police work and ideas of equal rights.

Reading Level/Interest Age: 12 and up
Curriculum Ties: Terrier could be an interesting tie in for students learning about justice in the middle ages. It provides an illustrative picture of both the poverty and the lack of basic human rights that so many suffered from.
Booktalking Ideas: Ask if the teens have seen the TV show Life on Mars. Explain that Terrier looks at police work even older than that, and throws in a little magic too. Recommend for teens that liked Harry Potter.

Genre: Fantasy
Influences from Other Genres: Mystery, Detective/Police Story

Challenge Issues:
Although many main characters in Tamora Pierce’s book do have sex, Bekka Cooper does not have any in Terrier. There is violence, but it is not gratuitous, and is even somewhat muted by being told through the lens of Bekka’s diary. Tamora Pierce has written an interesting essay on why she does include sex and violence in her young adult novels. She discusses the fact that in the middle ages (in which her fantastical books are generally based) people married much younger and had sex more casually. She expresses her belief that in modern times we are overly removed from the violence that is part of our make-up, and that it contributes to the cycle of even more violence because we are not moved to try to right the wrongs that cause it (retrieved August 3rd, 2009 from

About the Author: Tamora Pierce was born of a long proud line of hillbillies on one side of her family, and a not so proud line of hillbillies on the other side. She has written over twenty books for young adults, many set in the same world as Terrier. She somehow married her husband Tim despite a strong view against the institution, and they live in New York City. (More details at http://www.tamora-pierce.com/bio.html)


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