Sunday, September 13, 2009

REVIEW: The Dog Who Belonged to No One

Hest, A.  (2008).  The Dog Who Belonged to No One.  New York:  Harry N. Abrams, Inc.


The Dog Who Belonged to No One not only tells the tale of a lonely dog, but also of a lonely girl named Lia who must make bread deliveries alone on her bike as the other children play.  When a storm begins suddenly in town, the dog must run for shelter and the Lia must pedal.

To help create sympathy for the dog (which wouldn't be difficult to begin with), he is anthropomorphized in terms of its emotions more than is strictly necessary to create the parallels within Lia and the dog's stories.

I liked the theory of this book and the way it was constructed (especially when the dog's narrative was side-by-side with Lia's).  I felt like there was too much effort put forth to make the reader pity the dog.  The title alone was enough to make me go "awww, poor little guy.  I hope someone adopts you."  All that was missing from the text was some truly vile character kicking the dog as he passed by it.  

The setting of the book is historical, but neither the text nor the illustrations give explicit information about the time period or location, which would be useful to a social studies teacher.


A teacher could have students focus on the language used with the dog and with Lia, how there are parallels in the vocabulary.  This simple and gentle story lends itself to having students predict what will happen.

A teacher can also take on the obvious lesson of adopting dogs or other animals from a shelter.

With older students, this book could be brought in to show as an example of a foil or interweaving of different stories.

Quotes of Note:

"Once there was a small dog with crooked ears.
He belonged to no one."

"And once there was a wisp of a girl named Lia."

"The dog who belonged to no one spent his days quite alone, exploring the narrow streets and wide boulevards of town after town...all through the changing seasons.  He longed for a friend."

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