Book Review - How to Steal a Dog

When it comes to writing for children, Barbara O'Connor just gets it. Unlike most adults, she seems to remember how a child thinks. This ability allows an author to walk in the child's shoes as the story unfolds.

Barbara O'Connor has written a number of novels for middle grade children, and I've become absorbed in each one I've read. In her book, How to Steal a Dog, she combines the reality of being homeless with spunkiness and humor. Georgina lives in a car with her younger brother, Toby, and her mother. She knows it's not normal to live as they do, washing up in service station restrooms. Georgina is afraid someone at school will discover her secret, so she wants to help her struggling mother get enough money to rent a place to live. She hatches a plan to steal a dog, return it to the owner, and collect a fat reward.

Georgina finds Willy, the perfect dog to steal. His owner lives in a big house, and she surmises rich people will pay large rewards. Nothing goes quite as planned, though. What seemed like a good idea turns out to cause all kinds of problems. Georgina wrestles with choosing between right and wrong.

I'd recommend this book for elementary school aged children. It would be eye-opening for more fortunate children to read about Georgina's struggles. It's also the kind of book that makes a wonderful read-aloud in a classroom.


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