Sunday, March 10, 2013

Classic MMGM: How To Steal A Dog by Barbara O'Conner

Date Published: March 20, 2007
ISBN: 0374334978
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
Themes: Homelessness, family, persistence, conscience, values

About The Book: Half of me was thinking, Georgina, don’t do this. Stealing a dog is just plain wrong. The other half of me was thinking, Georgina, you’re in a bad fix and you got to do whatever it takes to get yourself out of it.
Georgina Hayes is desperate. Ever since her father left and they were evicted from their apartment, her family has been living in their car. With her mama juggling two jobs and trying to make enough money to find a place to live, Georgina is stuck looking after her younger brother, Toby. And she has her heart set on improving their situation. When Georgina spots a missing-dog poster with a reward of five hundred dollars, the solution to all her problems suddenly seems within reach. All she has to do is “borrow” the right dog and its owners are sure to offer a reward. What happens next is the last thing she expected. —Goodreads 

First Line: The day I decided to steal a dog was the same day my friend Luanne Godfrey, fount out I lived in a car.

What Other's Are Saying: "Though set inside a heavy topic, this novel's gentle storytelling carries a theme of love and emphasizes what is really right in the world." —School Library Journal

"It's puzzling why Mom doesn't seek outside help for her desperate family, and the appearance of wise Mookie, a sort of transient deus ex machina, verges on excess. Yet in the end, this is truly Georgina's story, and to O'Connor's great credit, it's Georgina herself who figures out what's right and does it. The myriad effects of homelessness and the realistic picture of a moral quandary will surely generate discussion." —Booklist Online

Book Bloggers Weigh In:
Awesome World (Kids Review)
ReadKiddo.Com (James Patterson's)

Awards: Parents' Choice,ALA Book Links Lasting Connections 2007, Bank Street College Best Books of the Year 2007, Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices 2008
International Reading Assoc Notable Books for a Global Society 2008
NCSS-CBC Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies 2008
South Carolina Book Award for Children's Book Award (2009), Iowa Children's Choice Award Nominee (2011)

What I Thought: I applaud O'Conner for her courage and honest writing. Most of the negative reviews are concerned the subject matter too negative or unpleasant for nine to eleven-year-olds. I have to say that I found that view misguided in light of statistics, especially in the South where O'Conner lives, homeless levels are the highest with mother's and children being the fastest growing group. In just the last three years since the book was published, homelessness has increased by 33%. (See USA Today) That said, I think O'Conner's book is an important look at realities that 1in 45 children face in this country. It's a reality that can't be ignored. An excellent read-aloud that presents difficult questions that children today are dealing with. With 46.2 million living in poverty in 2011 and much more now, it is an unavoidable reality that children are either dealing with personally or know someone who is.  

About The Author: Barbara O'Conner

Who: "She's author of numerous acclaimed books for children, including Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia, How to Steal a Dog, The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis, and The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester. She has been awarded the Parents’ Choice Gold and Silver Awards, the Massachusetts Book Award, the Kansas William Allen White Award, the South Carolina Children's Book Award, the Indiana Young Hoosier Award, the South Dakota Children's Book Award, and the Dolly Gray Award, among many honors. As a child, she loved dogs, salamanders, tap dancing, school, and even homework. Her favorite days were when the bookmobile came to town. She was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, and now lives in Duxbury, Massachusetts, a historic seaside village not far from Plymouth Rock. —Macmillan

Her Newest Book:


  1. I enjoy Barbara O'Connor (my favorite of her titles is Greetings from Nowhere), but I have not yet read this one. I did a reader's theater activity based on the first chapter with a 5th grade class, and they loved it. That first line just sucks you right in!

  2. Good, intriguing review. I agree with you that the topic is relevant. I am interested in checking this book out.

  3. Oh yes, I love this book! I reviewed it back in 2011. Such smooth writing and great characters. Glad to see the love continue for this. I haven't read her new book yet, but I'm hoping to eventually.

    Wow, homelessness has increased in the south by 33% since the book came out?? I did not know that. Thanks, Pam.

  4. I read this book two years ago and very much enjoyed it. I think there are a lot of kids who can relate to this book (sadly). I had no idea that the homeless rate in the south has increased so much. :(

  5. I wasn't familiar with this book, but I think I should read it. Every kid needs a book to which he or she can relate. Unfortunately, there are far too many kids who will find this book all to relevent. Thanks for the review.

  6. I remember seeing this book a while back and I even have her most recent book on my tbr pile. I also remember seeing the author as a mentor in Kate Messner's REAL REVISION. :)


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