No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman
Wallace Wallace, middle school football star, has a problem. His English teacher asked the class to write a book review for their latest novel, the award-winning Old Shep, My Pal. His problem? Wallace has made a promise to himself that he will never tell a lie, after his dad lied to the family throughout his childhood. For 13 years, he has been as honest as the day is long. Wallace writes an honest review- he hated the book! Well, his English teacher is infuriated by his review, because it doesn’t even prove that he read the book! But Wallace really did hate the book- he is sick and tired of reading books where the dog dies. From Sounder, to Old Yeller, to Where the Red Fern Grow- the dog never makes it out alive!
Wallace’s punishment for refusing to write a glowing book review is that he must serve detention until he hands in an appropriate book report. His detentions will be served during football practice, so he is forced to miss games and practices. The worst part? He must serve his detention at drama club rehearsal…..where they are rehearsing their school play- Old Shep, My Pal.
While this seems like a terrible form of torture, Wallace begins to make the best of the situation by sharing his thoughts about the play. Speaking honestly, he offers suggestions for dialogue and staging. Shockingly, his ideas are pretty good. Before he knows it, he has taken over the play! But nothing comes that easily. His team mates hate him, he still has an incomplete in English, and someone is sabotaging the play and trying to frame him!This was a very funny book.
Told in chapters that alternate viewpoints between Wallace, Rachel (the Drama club president), Trudi (Rachel’s boy-crazy best friend), and Mr. Fogelman (the English teacher/director), the reader is able to experience the story from all angles. I have to agree with Wallace, I admit it. I wish that sometimes, maybe just once, the dog didn’t have to die!
I have a few students in mind who would enjoy this book. It’s rare to find a book where the protagonist(s) aren’t blatantly aimed at one gender or the other. This isn’t a boy or girl book- both sexes will enjoy it! It has sports, drama, and a bit of rebelliousness in it. A great addition to my classroom library.