How to Steal a Dog, by Barbara O’Connor

September 18, 2009

Rating: 4.5/5

Rating: 4.5/5

Ok, ok, I admit it…I have not posted lately though I said I would. No excuses, folks, just a lot of work! Without further ado, here is the review of How to Steal a Dog.

This is a heartwarming story about a little girl that has to ask herself some very tough questions in order to make some very tough decisions.

One day, Georgina’s father left the house and never came back. Since then, she and her brother have been living in the family’s rickety car, hoping their mother can make enough money to get them a place to live. Despair slowly eats away at her as her little brother’s hair gets dirtier and dirtier and she can’t afford to complete her school projects so her grades begin to plummet. One day she sees a $500 reward sign for a lost dog and gets an idea: steal a dog, wait for the reward sign, then return said dog and get the money. Easy…right?

I love this story. Georgina is lovable and realistic and the reader can’t help but wonder if, under the same circumstances, we would do the same. The boundaries between right and wrong are blurred and frayed, and without being preachy, the writer makes the reader consider some very tough questions such as: “Should Georgina hope and depend on her father coming back? Is she right in feeling that she might not love him anymore? Is she right in feeling resentful towards her mother because she has not been able to find them a home? Is it ok for her to steal a dog for reward money, even if she really takes care of it and makes sure it’s safe?”

Topics included in this book are: family, relationship between siblings, homelessness, abandonment, friendship, responsibility, animal cruelty and becoming an outcast.

I’m glad to have seen this book on some schools’ reading lists and I hope more teachers read and share it with their students.


How to Steal a Dog was nominated for the Rhode Island Children’s Book Award. Check out what readers have said!

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