Title: How to Steal a Dog
Author: Barbara O’Connor
Pages: 170 pages
Publisher/Date: Frances Foster Books, c2007.
“Listen, Toby,” I said. “It’s the only way we’re ever gonna have us a real place to live instead of this car, you hear?”
“Don’t you want a real place to live?”
He nodded again.
“Then we got to steal us a dog and get the reward,” I said. “And if you tell anyone, and I mean anyone, you might as well just say your prayers and kiss this earth goodbye, you hear me?”
“Okay,” he said. “But how do we steal a dog?”
“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m working on it.” (16)
Georgina Hayes lives with her little brother Toby and her mom. They don’t live in a house or an apartment though; they live in their car, which they must move every couple days so the police don’t tow them away. Georgina hates living in her car because it’s embarrasing and she’s left caring for her brother instead of participating in Girl Scouts or ballet while her mom works two jobs trying to save enough for an apartment. She has an idea though that will help get some money for her mom; steal a dog, wait for the missing signs to be posted, and then claim the reward. All goes according to plan in stealing the dog, but then things go horribly wrong in trying to claim the reward.
This book was highly enjoyable. Barbara O’Connor treats the situation with sympathy and empathy. The situations are not normally presented in children’s literature, and they seemed highly realistic. Georgina’s predictaments are both humerous and poignant, catching readers in to her internal debate of what is right and who is in the wrong. Especially applicable in these times of unemployment and struggling families.
This book was one of the selections for book parade 2010 at my library. Book Parade is a six week reading incentive program held in conjunction with the area schools. Kids in 4-5th grades read as many books from a pre-selected list as possible and answer questions on the book to judge their reading comprehension.