Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Lee, Ingrid. 2008. DOG LOST. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 9780545085786 [Suggested Grade Levels 5 and up]
Based loosely on a true story, this is a classic boy-and-his-dog tale, with a modern twist. The boy is Mackenzie, whose alcoholic father spends most of his time worrying about romance and gambling. The dog is Cash, a female pit-bull puppy that Mackenzie’s father won in a card game. Mackenzie and Cash become inseparable and are always careful not to upset the rage-prone father. Inevitably the father’s anger explodes one day, and Cash is the victim. The father abandons Cash in another part of the city, hoping to end her relationship with Mackenzie.
As a stray, Cash becomes the central character of the story while Mackenzie waits in the wings to be reunited with his beloved dog. However, recent violent incidents have spurred community leaders to pass a ban on pit-bull breeds. At just the right time, a stray pit-bull becomes a local hero when it rescues a woman from a fire. Is Cash the hero dog? Does a city have the right to ban certain breeds? Are dogs like Cash instinctively bad and untrustworthy, or are they trained to be vicious? Will Cash and Mackenzie reunite? These are but a few of the sophisticated questions readers will ponder throughout the story.
Many communities have strict laws about pets. Conduct research on local ordinances to find out if any dog breeds are banned or restricted. Discuss the nature vs. nurture dilemma as it relates to vicious dogs.
Other novels about dogs that become strays:
Burnford, Sheila E. INCREDIBLE JOURNEY. ISBN 9780884110996
Koja, Kathe. STRAYDOG. ISBN 9780374372781
Martin, Ann M. A DOG’S LIFE: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A STRAY. ISBN 9780439715591
By Rebecca S. McKee