Dog Days

Dog Days

4.2 5
by David Lubar

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Larry can't stop thinking about the growling dog in the alley. He already has three strays in his backyard. How can he afford to take care of another one? When his brother Paul points out a strange mark in the alley, Larry has a mystery to solve. What is the dog protecting? What is really going on in that dark alley?


Larry can't stop thinking about the growling dog in the alley. He already has three strays in his backyard. How can he afford to take care of another one? When his brother Paul points out a strange mark in the alley, Larry has a mystery to solve. What is the dog protecting? What is really going on in that dark alley?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As Lubar's (Dunk) brief, disappointing tale of one boy's summer begins, outfielder Larry misses a catch to make the game-ending third out-because his six-year-old brother calls to him, "Someone needs help." Paul leads Larry to an alley where a mysterious red stain covers the wall, and a growling stray appears to be guarding the spot. "Besides baseball, there wasn't anything in the world [Larry] liked as much as dogs." And dogs love Larry, who takes in many a stray until he can find them homes, so he can't understand the alley dog's reaction. The protagonist becomes intrigued when new red stains start appearing on the wall and the dog continues to growl at him emphatically. While unraveling the puzzle, Larry discovers a way to tackle his two biggest problems, rising dog food prices for his homeless brood and losing the paper route he'd been promised. The tale feels sketchy, compared with Lubar's previous novels. Even the relationship between Larry and Paul, the only characters with any development here, seems unrealistic. Readers might believe that Paul would interrupt Larry at a pivotal moment on the field once, but twice (while Larry's at bat with a full count and the perfect pitch is about to come over the plate)? And his friends never comment on Larry's sabotage of their games. Fans of baseball and dogs will likely feel that they don't get to see enough of either to hold their interest. Ages 9-14. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
In this short gracefully told novel, Larry is spending the summer playing baseball with his buddies and hanging out. But he also is supporting three stray dogs that his parents let him keep if he provides all of the food, a task the boy cheerfully tackles by doing odd jobs and collecting aluminum cans and paper which he takes to the local junk yard dealer for money. But the costs of dog food have gone up, Larry's profits have gone down since the city started its own recycling program, and things look bleak. In addition, his pesky five-year-old brother Paul has discovered another stray dog standing in an alley by what looks like blood on the walls and ground nearby. When Larry figures out by patient observation what is going on when he sees the back door of a restaurant open, his observations earn him a real job plus another dog to care for. Interesting subtexts are the two brothers' relationship that reveals Larry as an exasperated but also caring older brother and Paul as a timid younger one who gains courage over his fear of dogs with his brother's support. It's rare to find a book in which someone under the age of fifteen earns money in so many ways and so persistently. Larry's great example of entrepreneurship seems to be from another decade, although nothing in the book indicates a setting other than contemporary small-town America. Large print and an artful layout invite older less able readers to tackle this short story laid out in under 80 pages. Other plusses are the baseball details (and Paul's annoying way of calling from the sidelines just as Larry is about to make the catch or hit the home run) that flavor the story without overwhelming it, parents who are supportive butabsent from the story, and a satisfying ending of problems solved without adult help, plus another great dog to be added to Larry's canine corps. 2004, Darby Creek, Ages 9 to 12.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-Larry is spending the summer doing his two favorite things-playing baseball and taking care of the dogs he finds and brings home. Then his younger brother discovers a mysterious red mark on the wall of an alley and worries that it is blood. While they are investigating the alley, the brothers come across another stray but this one won't let Larry get close to it. Meanwhile, he discovers that the price of dog food has gone up and worries about having enough money to feed the animals in his care. By solving the mystery in the alley, Larry is able to find a way to feed the animals and also figures out how to approach the stray and take it home. The suspense in this easy-to-read chapter book will carry readers through to the end. The relationship between the brothers is warmly depicted, as Larry looks out for and spends time with Paul. A good transition novel for young readers on to chapter books.-Kristina Aaronson, Henniker Community School, NH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Larry Haskins spent a nearly wonderful summer playing baseball and caring for his three stray dogs. He's always looking for good homes to place them with, since his family isn't well-off, and he can keep only as many as he can afford to feed. Paul, his excitable six-year-old brother, sees a possibly black-lab puppy growling beneath a suspicious stain on the wall of an alley. Paul's sure someone was murdered; Larry just wants to help the puppy. He is, however, running out of funds to buy dog food. Every plan he makes to earn money fails until the mystery of the stain and the puppy provides the answers he needs. Lubar has given parents and teachers of reluctant male readers something to cheer about-especially if they are concerned about the siren call of action-packed, violent series fiction. This gentle story with a laudable hero will draw young boys in as they recognize themselves in Larry, and it will keep them turning pages as his problems mount. The story threads knit together for a happy ending that will leave them wishing it had lasted longer. (Fiction. 9-11)

Product Details

Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
Exceptional Reading and Language Arts Titles for Intermediate Grades Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.30(d)
630L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

David Lubar has written more than twenty books for young readers, including Hidden Talents, Flip, Invasion of the Road Weenies, Punished, and My Rotten Life. His novels are on reading lists across the country, saving countless students from a close encounter with Madame Bovary. His short stories have appeared in the collections of such respected anthologists as M. Jerry Weiss, Don Gallo, and Michael Cart, and in a variety of magazines, including Boy's Life, READ, and Nickelodeon. He has also designed and programmed many video games, but he'd much rather spend his time writing books and hanging out with librarians. He lives in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, with his wife and a variety of cats.

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Dog Days 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Six-year-old Paul Haskins's imagination seemed to run overtime every now and then, but his older brother was very patient with him. No boy wanted to be interrupted during a baseball game, but when Paul desperately called out to Larry, Carlos Montoya stepped up to take his spot. Paul was worried that someone was in trouble in the alley between the Reader's Roost Bookstore and LaGuardia's Diner. There was an unusually large "red stain, five feet above the ground ... spattered against the side of the bookstore." What was more worrisome to Larry was the fact that there was a dog baring his teeth and growling at the two of them. Larry never had any problems with dogs so why was this mutt acting this way for nothing? Larry tried to tell Paul that it was probably just paint, but Paul said that "It isn't paint. Paint would say something." Maybe, but there would be no convincing a kindergartner that the stain was just paint and that the dog was just harmless . . . or was it? Larry like to help out stray dogs and was taking care of three at the moment. He had Duke, Buck, and Hobo. The were vet checked and Larry worked hard to make sure they had enough food to eat. It was getting hard to find little jobs so he could afford the price of the food. Later on Paul would be a bit more insistent that there was something wrong in the alley. The third time he made Larry head to the alley there was "another spot on the wall." Was it really paint or could it possibly be blood and what the heck was that mangy dog protecting in that alley? This is a simple, but very appealing mystery of what an unusual dog is fiercely protecting an alley. This is not a complicated plot by any means, but would be a perfect book for any youngster who is both a reluctant reader and a dog aficionado. It has one of those feel good endings that I enjoy in children's books. I especially liked the idea that Larry was not only patient and kind to his brother, Paul, but also to his four legged friends. For some reason this book reminded me of the book club offerings that Scholastic used to offer when I was a child. It was short, sweet, and the surprising twist at the end made me want to read more of the same ilk. This is an excellent, short book geared toward ages 6 to 9 that would be perfect to spark an interest in reading whether it be your own child or one in your classroom! This book courtesy of the publisher.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have not read is it good?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had a feeling it wouldnt be good. I tried to judge its cover and i succeded on that. When i was reading it the words didnt come together. I would have proferred a more complex story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago