Paulsen, Gary. 2009. NOTES FROM THE DOG. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375894503 [Suggested Grade Levels 5- 9]
“Sometimes having company is not all it’s cracked up to be.” Fourteen-year-old Finn is more comfortable around books than people. He hopes to spend his summer with a stack of books and to limit his contact with people to “fewer than a dozen.” All of this changes when Johanna moves in next door to house-sit. She is an out-going young woman who has been battling breast cancer. With the help of Finn’s dog, Dylan, Johanna sends encouraging notes to Finn that help him come out of his shell. “You were wrong about you and girls.” Johanna sets up Finn on a date with a girl that he thought was out of his league, but the girl said yes. With Johanna’s help, Finn realizes that he can connect with people.
In this realistic story, Paulsen has taken the topic of cancer and created a book that is filled with joy, hope, and compassion. Johanna is unable to compete in a survivor triathlon that she has been training for; Finn and his friend Matthew not only take her place, but also raise a large amount of money for the cause. When she takes a turn for the worse, Finn and Matthew stay by her side and try to give her as much comfort as possible. Johanna’s words of wisdom are poignant and something that Finn cherishes after she is gone.
Organize a group to participate in a local Race for the Cure.
Collect items for the Heroes for Children Wish List.
Other books for children about coping with cancer:
Nicholls, Sally. WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER. ISBN 9780545069489
Polacco, Patricia. THE LEMONADE CLUB. ISBN 9780399245404
By Jane Jergensen