Going Bovine by Libba Bray

6512140Information: Going Bovine by Libba Bray was published in 2009 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 0385733976

Plot Summary: Sixteen year old Cameron just wants to finish high school. It’s his main focus until a punk rock fairy, named Dulcie with a love of sugar shows up. It’s very possible this is Cameron’s mind hallucinating because he’s just received the news that he is sick and he is going to die. Cameron has mad cow disease and his brain is slowly deteriorating. But Dulcie, the fairy, says she has a cure and she is going to help him find it. Cameron and Dulcie go on the ultimate road trip to find this miracle cure with the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome. While struggling with what is real and what is a side effect from the disease, Cameron discovers what matters most while living the best life.

Critical Evaluation: Libba Bray offers a unique and hilarious perspective on what would normally be a dark and frightening situation. Cameron’s hallucinations allow Cameron and the reader to explore the best and worst aspects of life, while facing a life or death situation. It’s a bright and funny look into how teens face such dark situations. Bray parallels Cameron’s wild adventures with great life lessons that every teen goes through as a rite of passage.

Reader’s Annotation: Cameron has been diagnosed with mad cow disease and on top of hallucinations and high school, now he’s dying. But when a punk rock fairy offers to take him on a road trip to find the cure for his disease, he has to decide what is most important to his life whether he finds the cure or not.

Author’s InformationLibba Bray is the New York Times bestselling author of The Gemma Doyle trilogy (A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, The Sweet Far Thing); the Michael L. Printz Award-winning Going Bovine; Beauty Queens, an L.A. Times Book Prize finalist; and The Diviners series. She is originally from Texas but makes her home in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, son, and two sociopathic cats (Libba Bray).

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Humor, Fantasy, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Curriculum Ties: (Florida State Curriculum Standards): Understanding Key Literary Ideas

Book Talk Ideas:

  • The novel has been described both as realistic and fantasy. How much of Cameron’s road trip do you believe was hallucinations?
  • Did you catch the Don Quixote references throughout the novel? Why might Bray have chosen Quixote as a pattern on which to base her novel? 

Reading Level/ Age Interest: Grades 9-12 (Scholastic) and Ages 15-18

Challenge Issues: Death, Illness, Grief

Challenge Defense File:

Selection Policy

The System will select and maintain a comprehensive collection of print, non-print, audio visual and electronically accessed materials to meet the informational, educational, and recreational needs of the citizens of Sarasota County. The System will strive to offer wide ranging collections that meet the various ages, interests, educational levels, and cultural backgrounds of all members of the community and will provide collections through which an individual may explore all points of view and issues of interest. In making selections, the library staff will do so based upon principle rather than personal opinion, reason rather than prejudice, and judgment rather than censorship. Furthermore, staff will be responsive to public demand for materials of contemporary significance and interest, while balancing this with the need to collect and preserve materials of permanent value. While library staff makes material selections based upon the tenet of one system, one collection, selectors recognize the distinct characteristics and needs of the populace that each library services. Community profiles are used to guide selectors in efforts to develop special collections and to meet the unique patron needs within each library.

The ultimate responsibility for selection materials rests with the General Manager of Libraries and the Management Team, who in turn delegates selection responsibilities to the Collection Development Librarians (Sarasota County Policy).  


Bray, L. (2009). Going Bovine. New York, New York: Delacorte Books for Young Readers. Going Bovine was written for high school students to allow them to a unique and humorous exploration on death and grief. Cameron’s road trip creates a debate of what is fact and fiction and how the differences may or may not impact how we learn life’s important lessons. Other recommendations like this book include: Punkzilla by Adam Rapp, Postcards from No Man’s Land by Aidan Chambers, and Repossessed by A.M. Jenkins.

Active Listening Skills

  • Remain calm
  • Listen thoughtfully and carefully to any arguments for the collection
  • Engage in a discussion that considers every concern, even if you do not agree


  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2009)
  • Michael L. Printz Award (2010)
  • The Inky Awards Nominee for Silver Inky (2010)

Reconsideration Form


Selection Tools:

Why I chose this book:

I chose Going Bovine for its creative interpretation for exploring illness and grief. So often stories about sickness are surrounding in dark themes, but Going Bovine offers a fresh perspective on learning life lessons through illness and grief.


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