No More Dead Dogs

 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.

Hot Books in the New Year

It’s time for my monthly installment of books that I currently can’t keep in my classroom library. Some of these I have booktalked, to get the ball rolling, while others are strictly gaining popularity based on 6th grade word of mouth!  

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rulesby Jeff Kinney: As I said in my review, this was the most hotly-anticipated new title of the year in my classroom. The waiting list is currently 25 students long (of my 42) and includes both boys and girls, advanced and reluctant readers. It has also kicked off a resurgence of popularity for the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid, as you must have read #1 to get on the waiting list. Hopefully, when I receive my next two copies from Scholastic this week, I can get this into the hands of more readers! 

Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)by Stephenie Meyer: This one baffles me. I adore this entire series, and have plenty of coworkers who can’t keep it in their classroom library. For some reason, it wasn’t attracting readers in my room. But, right before the holidays one of my girls decided to give it a try. She came back this month begging for New Moon (Twilight, Book 2). Because she liked the novel, I saw a friend of hers take it out this past week. We shall see! 

Albino Animalsby Kelly Milner Halls: When I booktalked this book, 5 hands immediately shot into the air asking if they could have it first. I think it is a combination of the subject matter, the amazing pictures, and the fun facts. A definite must for any classroom library! 

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray: I recommended this series to my students who enjoy Lois Duncan and other paranormal stories. So far, they like it better than some of Duncan’s weaker works. Bray writes wonderful historical fiction without slamming them over the head with information. Plus, who wouldn’t want to have visions and be in control of the realms? 

The Periodic Tableby Adrian Dingles: My students just finished a unit on chemistry in their science class, where they focused on the periodic table. They’ve been laughing over this great book ever since! I have caught them reading different elemental descriptions out loud to each other, or sharing them even after they have read the book. The information is funny and accurate, so they remember it! I found about this book through the Cybil nominations a few months ago and I can not recommend it enough. 

Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery by John Feinstein: My sports enthusiasts love this novel. As one of my students said, “I won a writing contest once, like the main character. But I didn’t get a trip to the Final Four!”. It has everything- mystery, sports, platonic friendships, and a male and female main character.