Reviews for How to Steal a Dog

Booklist Reviews 2007 March #2
One day Georgina has a home, a best friend, and plenty to eat. The next, she's living in a car with her mother and brother. Carrying on as usual isn't possible: washing up in a restaurant bathroom, doing homework by flashlight, losing her friend. Mom works two jobs, but it's not enough, so impatient Georgina decides to steal a dog, hoping to collect a reward. She picks her furry victim and makes careful plans--but she doesn't count on her conscience. In stripped-down, unsentimental prose, Georgina tells her own story, her words making clear her vulnerability and heartbreak as well as her determination and pride. It's puzzling why Mom doesn't seek outside help for her desperate family, and the appearance of wise Mookie, a sort of transient deus ex machina, verges on excess. Yet in the end, this is truly Georgina's story, and to O'Connor's great credit, it's Georgina herself who figures out what's right and does it. The myriad effects of homelessness and the realistic picture of a moral quandary will surely generate discussion. ((Reviewed March 15, 2007)) Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Fall
After Georgina's father leaves, her family struggles with poverty and homelessness. Desperate, Georgina convinces herself that stealing a dog to collect reward money is the answer. Tension builds as Georgina's plan unravels and she wrestles with her conscience. The main characters are realistically drawn, and O'Connor spins a touching story about an ordinary girl in unfortunate circumstances. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2007 #3
Narrator Georgina Hayes had a fairly normal life in Darby, North Carolina, before her father walked out on the family and her mother couldn't pay the rent. Now Georgina, her younger brother, and their mother sleep in their car, wash up in public restrooms, and struggle to cope with poverty and homelessness. O'Connor writes sensitively about an ordinary girl in unfortunate circumstances, one who's painfully aware of what she's lost and desperate for a return to normalcy. So desperate, in fact, she convinces herself that stealing a dog to collect reward money (she's inspired by a lost-dog sign offering five hundred dollars) is the answer to all their problems. Carmella Whitmore, who lives in a huge house on Whitmore Road, looks like somebody who could pay a big reward to get her dog back, but Georgina learns too late that she was wrong -- in more ways than one. Tension builds as Georgina's plan unravels and she wrestles with her conscience. The main characters are realistically drawn (except for a too-good-to-be-true drifter with a heart of gold); Georgina's prickly relationship with her weary mother is especially believable. O'Connor knows how to spin a touching story, and reading this novel is its own reward. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2007 March #2
Georgina and younger brother Toby begin a homeless life living in Mom's car, having been evicted when Dad leaves. Mom tries her best to work two minimum-wage jobs in order to make the security deposit for a new apartment while the kids struggle daily to maintain normalcy in and out of school. Desperate to help Mom gain some significant cash, Georgina concocts a grand scheme to steal a dog, dupe the owner into offering a $500 reward and then return the designated pooch for the cash. As crazy as this sounds, O'Connor weaves a suspenseful and achingly realistic story, fleshing out characters that live and breathe anxiety, fortitude and a right vs. wrong consciousness. Colorful, supporting roles of a wise, kind vagrant and a lonely, overweight dog owner round out this story of childhood helplessness, ingenuity and desolation. Georgina's reflections in a secretly kept "how-to" journal will have kids anticipating her misconceptions about the realities of theft and deception. A powerful portrayal from an innocently youthful perspective. (Fiction. 10-12) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 April #1

O'Connor (Me and Rupert Goody ) blends her usual poignancy and insight in another tale set in a small North Carolina town. "The day I decided to steal a dog was the same day my best friend, Luanne Godfrey, found out I lived in a car," begins plucky Georgina. After her father "just waltzed off and left us with nothing but three rolls of quarters and a mayonnaise jar full of wadded-up dollar bills," Georgina, her mother and younger brother, Toby, were evicted from their apartment. The three now sleep in their old Chevy. Since her mother works two jobs, saving up for a place to live, Georgina takes care of Toby after school, while carefree Luanne attends ballet class and Girl Scouts with her new best friend. A poster announcing a $500 reward for a missing dog gives the heroine an idea for helping to secure lodging. She diligently writes in her notebook rules for stealing a dog, but they turn out to be more complicated than she anticipates. The devastated woman whose pet Georgina purloins (and who is not wealthy enough to furnish a reward) and a wise and caring homeless man Georgina meets also affect her plan. Speaking with at times heartbreaking honesty, this likable young narrator convincingly articulates her frustration, resentment and confusion as she comes to her decisions. O'Connor once again smoothly balances challenging themes with her heroine's strength and sense of humor. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2007 May

Gr 3-7 - Georgina and her family have been living in their car since her father left and they were evicted from their apartment. Mama is working two jobs to earn rent money and trying hard to hold things together. Desperate to help out, Georgina decides to steal a dog for the reward money, laying out the details of her plan in a diary. However, the dog's owner can't afford to offer a reward, and Georgina ends up feeling sorry for the lonely woman. The girl also makes friends with another adult named Mookie, a kindhearted wanderer who is camped out at the abandoned house where she is keeping the dog. He shares his wisdom and offers help, whether she wants it or not. Georgina's narrative is honest and deeply touching, as she recounts how she and her brother try to survive their circumstances. Washing off in a gas station restroom and turning in grease-stained homework become fairly normal occurrences. Readers will identify with the agony and the embarrassment caused by being different, as well as Georgina's struggles with her conscience. The book's endearing humor smoothes out the more poignant moments, and the unfolding events will keep youngsters totally engaged. The gem in the story is Mookie, who manages to sparkle even when sadness threatens to devour the moment. Though set inside a heavy topic, this novel's gentle storytelling carries a theme of love and emphasizes what is really right in the world.-Robyn Gioia, Bolles School, Ponte Vedra, FL

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