Reviews for Just a Dog

Booklist Reviews 2012 December #2
Mister Mosely was "just a dog," but he was so much more. He was a big, lovable, part Dalmatian, part who-knows-what; and he certainly made himself part of the family. After Mister Mosely's death, Corey writes down the most memorable stories about the dog. Intertwined with the humorous yet poignant tales are also relevant stories of the family. Corey begins with the day the family looked at Uncle Gavin's puppies. Corey chose "Mister Mostly," but since he couldn't properly pronounce the word Mostly, the dog's name was changed. Each of the 29 stories can be read separately, but because each leads into the next, the stories can be read as a continuous string, too. Readers will discover that both of Corey's sisters are born, Dad loses his job(s), Uncle Gavin isn't welcome anymore, and Dad and Mum don't get along; but, in the end, it seems that the memory of Mister Mosely keeps hope alive for a brighter future for the family. Pair this with Ann M. Martin's Because of Shoe and Other Dog Stories (2012). Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
Nine-year-old Corey tells all the stories he remembers about his family's dog, Moe. The tone is somber: even the funny stories are laced with darker moments in which the parents are fighting, or Moe gets hurt or lost. Dog-book lovers may not get what they're seeking, but they will find this book compelling nevertheless.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #1
In this Australian import, nine-year-old Corey tells all the stories he remembers about his family's dog, Mister Mosely ("Moe"), a very big white dog with a heart-shaped splotch on his chest and a teardrop-shaped mark under his eye. From the book's beginning, the tone is somber: it's clear that Mister Mosely is no longer around and that Corey's home situation isn't very happy. A few stories are comical, but even the funny ones are laced with darker moments in which the adults are mean to Moe, or the parents are fighting, or Moe gets hurt or lost. The last few chapters are devoted to the dog's final days and the family's subsequent mourning. Bauer's strength is in revealing interpersonal dynamics through the dog tales, as the family goes through hard economic times and Corey's dad and uncle have a brutal fight over his mom. Dog lovers looking for funny stories may not get what they're seeking, but they will find this book compelling reading thanks to Bauer's conversational narrative and the end-of-the-chapter hooks. susan dove lempke

Kirkus Reviews 2012 November #1
Lassie or Rin Tin Tin, he's not. To most people, he's just a dog, but to Corey, Mister Mosely is family. Born to a Dalmatian mother and (apparently) a Great Dane father, the only spots on Mister Mosely are one black tear near his eye and a black heart on his white chest, keys to his personality. Corey relates in 29 short, episodic chapters the serious, sad and silly antics of Mister Mosely, always the center of attention and affection. The beginning sentence is a flash-forward, with the stories that follow leading to that point: "The day my dad said Mister Mosely was ‘just a dog,' my mum punched him." Incidents include Moe's being hit by a car; his goofy way of delivering newspapers; his destruction of a pink, Christmas-gift panda; and his getting a fishhook caught in his mouth. When he senses that Mum is ready to give birth to her third child, Moe never leaves her side. When Corey almost gets into a car with a strange couple, Moe intercedes. It's his mum's suggestion that Corey write down all the stories about his dog to remember him, which is a smart idea for parents to follow when a child's pet dies. Dog lovers will lap up this appealing Australian import from its beguiling cover to the last page, at which point they will probably need a tissue or two. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 November #1

Despite the title and opening line ("The day my dad said that was ‘just a dog,' my mum punched him"), it soon becomes clear that the enormous pet at the center of this tearjerker of a dog story, first published in Australia in 2010, is anything but "just a dog" to his family. The deep-felt emotion surrounding Dad's statement and Mum's reaction surfaces at the end of the novel, which is narrated by Moe's young owner, Corey, in neatly linked anecdotes. Moe's energy, affectionateness, and (it must be said) demise easily bring to mind John Grogan's Marley. There are well-crafted light moments, too: Corey's sister decorates Moe with markers, the dog shreds a stuffed Pink Panther that has a funny backstory, and Moe learns to fetch the family's newspaper (as well as those delivered to neighbors). Sobering entries describe the events leading to Moe's decline and death, as well as Corey's father's downward spiral after losing his job. Reading like a heartfelt eulogy, Bauer's (Don't Call Me Ishmael!) book will be particularly moving for anyone mourning the loss of a pet. Ages 8-12. (Dec.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 December

Gr 4-6--Bauer pulls no punches in this story about a loyal dog and his family. Warm, fuzzy, and funny moments abound, but the going gets rough in the last few chapters, when life and love prove just how messy and painful these feelings can be. The narrator is young Corey Ingram, and thanks to Bauer's adept style, the book reads very much like a boy's endearing, rambling recollection of misadventures with a beloved pet. Mr. Mosely is a Great Dane mix, a well-intentioned bull in a china shop entirely devoted to his people. The heartbreak begins when Moe is hit by a car; he recovers, but the accident itself and the moments after are gut-wrenching. Moe later succumbs to cancer, and the family's efforts to care for him in his last days are strikingly tender. At the same time, Corey's parents are having struggles of their own, and the tension comes to a head in the backyard over the dog's body. There is no tidy, happy ending. Corey's parents remain together, but the relationship is uneasy. Corey recalls Moe's serene personality and vows that he, too, will wait and hope for good things to come. Kids experiencing similar stressors will find honest company in this unflinching story of the risks and rewards of all kinds of relationships.--Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, AR

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