CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 22. . . .February 7, 2014
Award-winning author Sylvia McNicoll has provided readers with several delightful dog novels, such as Bringing Up Beauty, A Different Kind of Beauty and Beauty Returns. Now, struggling and reluctant readers in the upper elementary and middle school grades can enjoy an action-packed, realistic story based on the struggle of a young teen trying to prove to his father that a rescue dog will be no trouble. Dog on Trial is a HIP Junior novel written at a grade 2 to grade 3 reading level with characters and plots appropriate to older readers.
With only three days to prove that Hero will be no trouble, Owen soon realizes that doing so will be quite a challenge. His dad is against having a dog, and Hero is untrained. Stealing a piece of chicken, eating Owen’s math homework and making messes on the floor prove to be minor problems compared to Hero’s chewing through the drywall and pipe in the bathroom and, thereby, flooding it with water. A return to the animal shelter seems inevitable, but a school project assignment showing that dogs are good for a person’s health might be the answer if Hero can help lower Dad’s blood pressure. And when that isn’t enough, Hero, himself, lives up to his name. This short novel, with illustrations by Charlie Hnatiuk, is exciting, action-packed and funny. Readers can relate to the social problems Owen faces at school as well as the realistic dynamics of a family. Dog on Trial is not only an appealing novel, but it might easily spark a reluctant reader’s curiosity to explore the benefits of having a pet or to investigate pet shelters. This extended interest would be a natural segue to information reading.
A Teacher's Guide, by Lori Jamison, a reading and literacy consultant, is available for Dog on Trial. It provides comments by the author, Sylvia McNicoll, a chapter-by-chapter plot synopsis, guided reading pages and graphic organizers. Several other features include a quiz and after-reading activities.
Janice Foster is a retired teacher-librarian from Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.