HOW TO STEAL A DOG
LOUISIANA YOUNG READERS’ CHOICE NOMINEE 2010
Submitted by Kimberly Callais, Student, LSU School of Library and Information Science,
Baton Rouge, LA
O'Connor, Barbara. How to Steal a Dog: A Novel. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007.
SUMMARY: Georgina Hayes has been living in a car with her brother and her mother ever since they got evicted from their apartment, and it’s starting to affect her schoolwork and her
friendships. Georgina’s mother is juggling two jobs to try and save up enough money to move into a house, but Georgina is getting impatient. When she sees a missing dog poster with a reward of five hundred dollars, she hatches a plan that will solve her family’s problems: Georgina is going to steal a dog, and then collect the reward money. But her plan doesn’t go off
without a few stumbling blocks.
IRA Notable Books for a Global Society, 2007
School Library Journal Best Books, 2007
Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books of the Year, 2008 Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 2008
Barbara O’Conner has written several children’s books, including Taking Care of Moses,
Moonpie and Ivy and Greetings from Nowhere. She received an English degree from the
University of South Carolina. She has also written biographies for children on Leonardo da Vinci, Isadora Duncan (the mother of modern dance), and Louis Braille. Author information from: http://www.barboconnor.com/index.html
OTHER TITLES BY AUTHOR:
O'Connor, Barbara. Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia. New York: Frances Foster Books,
O'Connor, Barbara. Me and Rupert Goody. New York: Frances Foster Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999.
O'Connor, Barbara. Moonpie and Ivy. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001.
Bunting, Eve, and Ronald Himler. Fly Away Home. New York: Clarion Books, 1991.
Moses, Shelia P. Joseph. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2008.
Carey, Janet Lee. The Double Life of Zoe Flynn. New York: Atheneum Books for Young
Mills, Claudia. Trading Places. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006.
Mazer, Norma Fox. What I Believe: A Novel. Orlando, Fla: Harcourt, 2005.
; Students can learn the following vocabulary words from the book:
Chapter 1: unkempt; Chapter 3: hedge, scrawny; Chapter 5: Laundromat; chapter 8:
holler; Chapter 10: liable; Chapter 12: chandelier, rummaged; Chapter 13: hightailed Writing:
; Have students write their own step by step “How To” guide, similar to Georgina’s.
; Have students write their own motto, like Mookie’s mottoes (“Sometimes the trail you
leave behind you is more important than the path ahead of you.” And, “Sometimes the
more you stir it, the worse it stinks.”) (p. 132 & 134)
; Students can write an essay about their responsibility to help people in need. Aesop’s Fables: On page 46, Georgina remembers an Aesop fable that her teacher read to them in school.
; Aesop’s Fables Online: http://www.elook.org/literature/aesop/fables/ and
; Aesop’s Fables 2001: Students will take one of Aesop’s fables and adapt it to fit modern
life. They will present their fables as PowerPoint presentations:
o Up-to-date Aesop: Similar lesson: http://www.education-
; Writing an Original Fable: Students will write original fables and perform them as
; Morality “Tails” East and West: Students will compare Aesop’s fables to traditional
Jakata tales. (Note: Jakata tales are related to Buddhism):
; Great Online Lesson Plans on Homelessness to Use in Your Classroom:
; Homeless in America: Students will develop an understanding of what it means to be
homeless and why people become homeless. (Note: the videos linked to in the lesson
plan require RealPlayer and audio).
o Fact Sheets for Students:
; Homeless Education Online Lesson Plans:
; Lesson Plan on Poverty: Students will examine the ethical issues regarding society’s
treatment of the poor and homeless.
Volcanoes: In the book, Georgina’s report on volcanoes doesn’t go over so well with her classmates and teacher.
; Make Your Own Volcano: Students can make their own erupting volcano in the
classroom or at home: http://library.thinkquest.org/J001393/volcanoes/directions.htm or
; Students can create their own missing dog poster to display in the classroom. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
1) Georgina’s idea to steal a dog seems like a bad idea from the beginning. What are some other
things that Georgina could have done instead of stealing a dog? 2) Mookie tells Georgina that he has two mottos. “Sometimes the trail you leave behind you is more important than the path ahead of you,” and, “Sometimes the more you stir it, the worse it stinks.” Explain what these mottos mean in your own words.
3) Carmella lives by a Gone with the Wind philosophy, to worry about things tomorrow instead of today. Do you think this is a good way to live? Why or why not? 4) Suppose you were in Georgina’s shoes, how would you have behaved differently than her in
school, or towards your mother? Can you understand why she did the things she did?
5) At the end of the novel, Carmella says to Georgina, “I guess bad times can make a person do
bad things.” Do you believe this is true? Why or why not?
Macmillan: How to Steal a Dog
The publisher’s website for the book.
Kids’ Wings Activities for How to Steal A Dog
A collection of activities and related books Help the Homeless
The US Housing and Urban Development’s website for kids
Draw Bridge: An Arts Program for Homeless Children
Draw Bridge provides art programs for homeless children.
Live United: Volunteer
The volunteer page for the United Way. National Coalition for the Homeless
Website for the National Coalition for the Homeless, which aims to end homelessness.
Missing Pet Network
A group of volunteers from the USDA Animal Care office, who help to find missing animals.