Monday, January 10, 2011

Just a dog by Michael Gerard Bauer

This is an oddly disturbing book and one I almost did not include in my blog but the final four chapters made the harrowing journey of this story worthwhile. In spite of the cute cover this is not a book for a very sensitive reader. Even in chapter one I was upset when Corey, the narrator, inadvertently killed his pet stick insect.

As a child I had a beloved dog, he actually looked a little like Mr Mosely without the Dalmatian colouring. In a series of short chapters Corey recounts the tough times for this family as they face unemployment, absent parents and the escalating cost of living. Mr Mosley works hard to develop a special relationship with each family member.

One thread in the book that simply did not ring true for me was the way Mr Mosely waited for Corey each day after school. My dog did this too. According to Corey, Mr Mosley would wait for hours for Corey to arrive home. This goes against everything I know about dogs. They have an inbuilt clock and while my dog did meet me at the bus stop each day he did not need to head down there until nearly 3pm each day. Similarly Corey says it was easy to fool Mr Mosely by pulling down his hat but dogs can smell you and see your body shape. This idea of tricking Mr Mosely has disastrous consequences and while I found this another harrowing incident I also questioned this reaction of a dog.

I have read several very glowing reviews of this book. In one case the reviewer selected this title as his book of the month so I guess all I can say is give it a go for yourself.

If you enjoy Just a dog or you want to read a better book about having a dog as a best friend I suggest you look for Love that dog by Sharon Creech. If you like books about dogs that are very emotional you might also like Marley a Dog like no other.

There are also teaching notes which you might find useful.

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