Monday, August 19, 2013

How to Steal a Dog Review

How to Steal a Dog

Book talk:  Georgina's life keeps going from bad to worse.  First, her father left, then they were evicted.  Mother gave Georgina and her brother one bag each and told them they could only take what fit in it.  Now the three of them are living in a car.  Georgina has tried to be patient, but her mother still hasn't worked things out.  Now it's time to take matters into her own hands. Georgina's family is desperate, and desperate times call for desperate measures.  Which is why Georgina thinks up a plan she would normally never even dream of doing.  She's decided to steal a dog, and use the reward money to move out of the car.  She knows what she's going to do, now she just has to figure out how to do it.

Rocks my socks:  Georgina's story was touching and portrayed with a lot of warmth and humour. Ever since the recent economic recession, homelessness among school-aged children has been on the rise.  According to the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth there were over a million homeless children enrolled in public schools for the 2010-2011 school year, a 57 percent increase over the 2006-2007 school year.  Yet this isn't an issue that is regularly discussed in classes or juvenile literature.  Georgina's family has fallen on hard times and her mother is working hard to save up the money to get them back on their feet.  The novel addresses some difficult issues and questions about the morality of Georgina's plan, but Georgina is such a vibrant character that it doesn't feel preachy or like a chore to read.  Georgina happens to be homeless at the moment, but there is so much more to her than that.  The theme of appearances being deceiving is further developed as Georgina's target turns out to be unable to raise a reward despite living in a nice house.

Rocks in my socks:  While I loved Georgina, the other characters did not seem as well-developed to me.  The serendipity of certain events also strained my credulity.  Still these are minor complaints for such a wonderful and worthy novel.

Every book its reader:  I'd give this to kids looking for a realistic story, especially to any animal lovers.  It should be easy to sell it to them with the picture of the dog on the cover.  It would make a good class read so that students can discuss the issues presented in the novel.  It'd give it to third to fifth graders.


Barbara O'Connor has a site with a page for the book, a photo album with pictures of her dogs, a blog, and more!

MacMillan has a page for the book complete with a discussion guide.

This book trailer will woo kids with its adorable pictures of dogs:

This story from the moth podcast shows that Georgina was not the first to think of this plot and is terribly entertaining to boot: "The Dog Days of Spanish Harlem"  by Ernesto Quinonez

Source: Copy provided as part of faculty/staff book club

How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor: Buy it or check it out today!

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