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A Dog's Life
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Product Description:

Gr. 4-6. Novels for children rarely follow characters from birth to the threshold of the grave, but then again, most protagonists do not measure their life spans in dog years. In this "autobiography" of a dog named Squirrel, Newbery Honour Book author Martin imagines how a stray separated from its family in puppyhood finds its way in the world. Martin adjusts to her character's limited viewpoint by combining a retrospective structure--allowing an older, wiser Squirrel to shed light on things not within a puppy's purview--with graceful dog's-eye descriptions of nature, as when a moon waxes "from the tiny curl of a cat's claw to a half-closed eye." Less effective are the repetitive plot structure and the concluding focus on Squirrel's twilight years, lending the novel an elegiac tone that may not resonate with its target audience. Readers who love animal survival stories in the tradition of Anna Sewell's Black Beauty (1877) and Sheila Burnford's The Incredible Journey (1961) will embrace this for its convincing animal perspective, though some sad events may shock the softer hearted. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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About the Author

Ann M. Martin's The Baby-Sitters Club series sold over 176 million copies and inspired a generation of young readers. Her novels include the Main Street series, BELLE TEAL, the Newbery Honor book A CORNER OF THE UNIVERSE, HERE TODAY, A DOG'S LIFE, and ON CHRISTMAS EVE, as well as the much-loved collaborations P.S, LONGER LETTER LATER and SNAIL MAIL NO MORE with Paula Danziger, and THE DOLL PEOPLE and THE MEANEST DOLL IN THE WORLD, written with Laura Godwin and illustrated by Brian Selznick. She lives in upstate New York.

Reviews

Gr 4-6-This is Ann Martin's first person account of life as a stray dog (Scholastic, 2005). Squirrel and her brother Bone are pups living in a country estate's garden shed. When their mother fails to return one day, Squirrel follows her brother to look for a new home. Mother had taught them basic survival skills-to hunt for food and beware of humans. On the road, they learn another life lesson-to be wary of highways with cars. Squirrel and Bone become separated, so Squirrel moves on alone. She befriends Moon, another stray. The two dogs watch out for each other, changing homes with the changing seasons. A fatal car accident separates the two. Squirrel again sets out again on her own, employing survival skills until she meets a woman named Susan and finds a stable home. Wendy Dillon's warm, calm voice is the perfect match to tell the tale of the experience-worn Squirrel. She adds nuances of pitch and tension to her voice when reading the few passages of dialogue. This story begs to be listened to multiple times. A good choice for animal lovers.-Stephanie Bange, Wilmington-Stroop Branch, Dayton Metro Library, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Martin's (A Corner of the Universe) winsome novel, written from a canine's point of view, is sure to melt the hearts of animal lovers, as she traces the dog days of a stray named Squirrel from birth to old age. The pooch spends his first few months safe and warm inside a shed. She first ventures out into the larger, more threatening world after her mother disappears and brother Bone decides it is time to explore the woods. From then on, life becomes a battle of survival for Squirrel, scrounging for food, avoiding busy streets and remaining wary of humans who may or may not be friendly. During her life, Squirrel gets separated from her brother, finds and loses a canine companion named Moon, and stumbles upon a handful of temporary owners who do not always prove to be loyal. Besides offering a glimpse of how strays learn to fend for themselves, this saga of a lonely dog delivers a subtle but strong message to potential dog owners, conveying the negative effects of neglecting, ditching or abusing a pet. After following Squirrel's harrowing encounters with freezing temperatures, dangerous enemies and near starvation, readers will utter a sigh of relief when she finds a human who needs Squirrel as much as Squirrel needs her. Ages 9-12. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

PW 8/22/05**STARRED********** Martin's (A Corner of the Universe ) winsome novel, written from a canine's point of view, is sure to melt the hearts of animal lovers, as she traces the dog days of a stray named Squirrel from birth to old age. The pooch spends his first few months safe and warm inside a shed. She first ventures out into the larger, more threatening world after her mother disappears and brother Bone decides it is time to explore the woods. From then on, life becomes a battle of survival for Squirrel, scrounging for food, avoiding busy streets and remaining wary of humans who may or may not be friendly. During her life, Squirrel gets separated from her brother, finds and loses a canine companion named Moon, and stumbles upon a handful of temporary owners who do not always prove to be loyal. Besides offering a glimpse of how strays learn to fend for themselves, this saga of a lonely dog delivers a subtle but strong message to potential dog owners, conveying the negative effects of neglecting, ditching or abusing a pet. After following Squirrel's harrowing encounters with freezing temperatures, dangerous enemies and near starvation, readers will utter a sigh of relief when she finds a human who needs Squirrel as much as Squirrel needs her. Ages 9-12. (Oct.) Kirkus 9/1/05 A DOG'S LIFE The Autobiography of a Stray Following the tradition of other realistic animal stories, this moving account of a stray dog's life experiences is told from the canine perspective. Born in a garden shed, Squirrel and her brother Bone are raised by their mother, who teaches them to hunt and avoid humans. Life is good for the puppies until their mother disappears and doesn't return. When the adventurous Bone sets out into the world, Squirrel follows, afraid to be on her own. But along a busy highway, the puppies are soon separated forever and Squirrel is alone. She manages to survive winter and finds Moon, another stray. The two travel together, raiding garbage cans, eluding dogcatchers and fighting off a band of hungry dogs until Moon is killed by a truck. Alone again, Squirrel stoically moves from town to town, encountering both kind and cruel humans, and aging as the seasons pass. Speaking matter-of-factly, Squirrel accepts life bravely and in the end, finds the loving home she deserves. Heart-wrenching as well as heart- warming. (Fiction. 10-14) PW 8/22/05**STARRED********** Martin's (A Corner of the Universe ) winsome novel, written from a canine's point of view, is sure to melt the hearts of animal lovers, as she traces the dog days of a stray named Squirrel from birth to old age. The pooch spends his first few months safe and warm inside a shed. She first ventures out into the larger, more threatening world after her mother disappears and brother Bone decides it is time to explore the woods. From then on, life becomes a battle of survival for Squirrel, scrounging for food, avoiding busy streets and remaining wary of humans who may or may not be friendly. During her life, Squirrel gets separated from her brother, finds and loses a canine companion named Moon, and stumbles upon a handful of temporary owners who do not always prove to be loyal. Besides offering a glimpse of how strays learn to fend for themselves, this saga of a lonely dog delivers a subtle but strong message to potential dog owners, conveying the negative effects of neglecting, ditching or abusing a pet. After following Squirrel's harrowing encounters with freezing temperatures, dangerous enemies and near starvation, readers will utter a sigh of relief when she finds a human who needs Squirrel as much as Squirrel needs her. Ages 9-12. (Oct.) Kirkus 9/1/05 A DOG'S LIFE The Autobiography of a Stray Following the tradition of other realistic animal stories, this moving account of a stray dog's life experiences is told from the canine perspective. Born in a garden shed, Squirrel and her brother Bone are raised by their mother, who teaches them to hunt and avoid humans. Life is good for the puppies until their mother disappears and doesn't return. When the adventurous Bone sets out into the world, Squirrel follows, afraid to be on her own. But along a busy highway, the puppies are soon separated forever and Squirrel is alone. She manages to survive winter and finds Moon, another stray. The two travel together, raiding garbage cans, eluding dogcatchers and fighting off a band of hungry dogs until Moon is killed by a truck. Alone again, Squirrel stoically moves from town to town, encountering both kind and cruel humans, and aging as the seasons pass. Speaking matter-of-factly, Squirrel accepts life bravely and in the end, finds the loving home she deserves. Heart-wrenching as well as heart- warming. (Fiction. 10-14)

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