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4.6 18
by Diana Wynne Jones

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The Dog Star, Sirius, is tried for murder by his heavenly peers and found guilty. His sentence: to be reborn on Earth as a dog until such time as he carries out the seemingly impossible mission imposed on him.

In his Earth guise, Sirius, renamed Leo, truly lives a dog's life. Although he is the pet of a girl who loves him, both child and dog are mistreated


The Dog Star, Sirius, is tried for murder by his heavenly peers and found guilty. His sentence: to be reborn on Earth as a dog until such time as he carries out the seemingly impossible mission imposed on him.

In his Earth guise, Sirius, renamed Leo, truly lives a dog's life. Although he is the pet of a girl who loves him, both child and dog are mistreated by the family with whom they live. But the worldly obstacles Leo faces are minor when compared with his chilling encounters with the Dark Powers that are set against him. His quest seems hopeless until at lost Sol, Moon, and Earth itself come to his aid.

Dogsbody is a tense, exciting, sciencefiction fantasy, a thriller, and a touching dog story all in one.

Editorial Reviews

This quick-paced, evocative tale has already achieved cult status among fantasy fans.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Praised by PW as ``among the most rewarding novels available for readers of all ages,'' this fantasy tells of the difficult mission confronting Sirius the Dog Star when he is sentenced to be reborn on Earth. Ages 9-14. (Feb.)
Children's Literature
Diana Wynne Jones has the uncanny ability to make her fantasies real and believable. Dogsbody is more than a case in point. We are asked to believe that a heavenly body-the star Sirius-is exiled to Earth on a mission of recovery and redemption in the body of a dog. Completely rational by Wynne Jones's way of thinking. Why couldn't the dog star become a living dog? And he does. Sirius/Leo becomes one of the most believable canines in dog literature: lovable, devoted to his new mistress Kathleen, intelligent yet still eminently doggie. It is, in fact, the warring between Sirus's intelligence and dog nature that leads to most of the story's drama and sends him back into the heavens as a wiser star. It would be folly to give away more of the plot. It need only be said that the book is more than welcome back into print-and may its own reincarnation find it many new readers. 2001 (orig. 1975), Greenwillow/HarperTrophy, $6.95. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr
From the Publisher
"Among the most rewarding novels available for readers of all ages."—Publishers Weekly

"It need only be said that the book is more than welcome back into print—and may its own reincarnation find it many new readers."—Children's Literature

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.32(h) x 0.94(d)
Age Range:
10 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Dog Star stood beneath the Judgment Seats and raged. The green light of his fury fired the assembled faces viridian. It lit the underside of the rooftrees and turned their moist blue fruit to emerald.

"None of this is true!" he shouted. "Why can't you believe me, instead of listening to him?" He blazed on the chief witness, a blue luminary from the Castor complex, firing him turquoise. The witness backed hastily out of range.

"Sirius," the First judge rumbled quietly, "we've already found you guilty. Unless you've any, thing reasonable to say, be quiet and let the Court pass sentence."

"No I will not be quiet!" Sirius shouted up at the huge ruddy figure. He was not afraid of Antares. He had often sat beside him as judge on those same judgment Seats-that was one of the many miserable things about this trial. "You haven't listened to a word I've said, all through. I did not kill that luminary -- I only hit him. I was not negligent, and I've offered to look for the Zoi. The most you can accuse me of is losing my temper-"

"Once too often, in the opinion of this Court," remarked big crimson Betelgeuse, the Second judge, in his dry way.

"And I've admitted I lost my temper," said Sirius.

"No one would have believed you if you hadn't," said Betelgeuse.

A long flicker of amusement ran around the assembled luminaries. Sirius glared at them. The hall of blue trees was packed with people from every sphere and all orders of effulgence. It was not often one of the high effulgents was on trial for his lifeand there never had been one so notorious for losing his temper.

"That's right-laugh!" Sirius roared. "You'regetting what you came for, aren't you? But you're not watching justice done. I tell you I'm not guilty! I don't know who killed that young fool, but it wasn't me!"

"The Court is not proposing to go through all that again," Antares said. "We have your Companion's evidence that you often get too angry to know what you're doing."

Sirius saw his Companion look at him warningly. He pretended not to see her. He knew she was trying to warn him not to prove the case against him by raging any more. She had admitted only a little more than anyone knew. She had not really let him down. But he was afraid he would never see her again, and he knew it would make him angrier than ever to look at her. She was so beautiful: small, exquisite and pearly.

"If I were up there, I wouldn't call that evidence," he said.

"No, but it bears out the chief witness," said Antares, "when he says he surprised you with the body and you tried to kill him by throwing the Zoi at him."

"I didn't," said Sirius. He could say nothing more. He could only stand fulminating because his case was so weak. He refused to tell the Court that he had threatened to kill the blue Castor-fellow for hanging around his Companion, or that he had struck out at the young luminary for gossiping about it. None of that proved his innocence anyway.

"Other witnesses saw the Zoi fall," said Antares. "Not to speak of the nova sphere -- "

"Oh go to blazes!" said Sirius. "Nobody else saw anything."

"Say that again," Betelgeuse put in, "and we'll add contempt of court to the other charges. Your entire evidence amounts to contempt anyway."

"Have you anything more to say?" asked Antares. "Anything, that is, which isn't a repetition of the nonsense you've given us up to now?"

Rather disconcerted, Sirius looked up at the three judges, the two red giants and the smaller white Polaris. He could see they all thought he had not told the full story. Perhaps they were hoping for it now. "No, I've nothing else to say," he said. "Except that it was not nonsense. I -- "

"Then be quiet while our spokesman passes the sentence," said Antares.

Polaris rose, quiet, tall and steadfast. Being a Cepheid, he had a slight stammer, which would have disqualified him as spokesman, had not the other two judges been of greater effulgence. "D-denizen of S-sirius," he began.

Sirius looked up and tried to compose himself. He had not had much hope all through, and none since they declared him guilty. He had thought he was quite prepared. But now the sentence was actually about to come, he felt sick. This trial had been about whether he, Sirius, lived or died. And it seemed only just to have occurred to him that it was.

"This Court," said Polaris, "has f-found you guilty on three counts, namely: of m-murdering a young luminary s-stationed in Orion; of grossly m-misusing a Zoi to com-m-mit that s-said m-murder; and of culpable negligence, causing t-trepidation, irregularity and d-damage in your entire s-sphere of inf-fluence and l-leading t-to the Moss of the Z-zoi." For the moment, his stammer fazed him, and he had to stop.

Sirius waited. He tried to imagine someone else as denizen of his green sphere, and could not. He looked down, and tried not to think of anything. But that was a mistake. Down there, through the spinning star-motes of the floor, he looked into nothing. He was horrified. It was all he could do not to scream at them not to make him into nothing.

Dogsbody. Copyright © by Diana Jones. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Diana Wynne Jones was the multiple award-winning author of many fantasy novels for children, teenagers, and adults. Her book Howl's Moving Castle was made into an Academy Award-nominated major animated feature by Hayao Miyazaki. She received the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. Married to the medievalist J. A. Burrow, with whom she had three sons, she lived for many years in Bristol, the setting for many of her books. Diana Wynne Jones passed away in March 2011, after a long illness.

Neil Gaiman is the Newbery Medal winning author of The Graveyard Book and Coraline.

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Dogsbody 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like dogs this might be the book for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the first book I ever read by Diana Wynne Jones, and it remains my favorite. She's such a wonderful author, and this book is a perfect example of her talent. The premise is so original and so interesting that this book is extraordinarily hard to put down. I reccommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy, mythology, or good dog stories
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the book and enjoyed it. i'm not a dog lover, but when i read the first page i was hooked. the story was touching, funny and sad at times. the pace was good and the plot was full of action. i recommend it to anyone of any age.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love it. Great book. Great story. Great ideas. Loved it so much don't know what to say. I just love it. Goodbye.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dogsbody is one of the most unique fantasy books I have ever read. There's nothing else quite like it. The story is fascinating and captivating. Don't miss this sweet gem.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I got this book because it looked good (and because it was about a dog) and I was right! I read it all in one night, which was about 5 and a half hours. This story is about the Dog Star, Sirius, who was found guilty of murder and was banished to live as a dog on Earth until he could retrieve a weapon called the Zoi. While being a dog, he became a kinder person/dog/illuminary (whatever you'd call him.) This book was really good because it was a fantasy, yet followed the life of a dog. I think it is a great book for dog lovers and fantasy lovers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book. Diana discribes life from a dog's point of view so well that I couldn't put the book down! It is a great story for all ages and Sirius really brings the book to life, he has such a big personality. I highly reccomend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book for the first time probably 15 years ago, and upon re-reading it as an adult I find I still enjoy one of my favorite books from my childhood. Its fantasy premise is that solar systems and constellations fall under the aegis of 'luminaries,' beings that order and run their spheres of influence. Sirius, the Dog Star, is accused and found guilty of murder, and is sent to Earth in a dog's body, there to either find and recover the murder weapon, a powerful tool called a Zoi. The story unfolds in England, where Sirius is adopted by Kathleen, an oh-so-common English orphan being raised by unkind relatives, and slowly, with the help of Sol (the denizen of Eath's sun), he pieces together his luminary memory and confronts the forces that framed him. The story's fantasy premise is fun and original. Jones personifies the stars well and gives them personalities in harmony with their physical characteristics that we can see from Earth. As a dog story, it's excellent as well, with a different twist. Usually the child's point of view is taken as we follow their development, which is facilitated by their relationship with a dog (or, often, a horse). Here Sirius's point of view is the only one present, and he must balance his 'luminary' concerns and his place as Kathleen's friend and defender. Jones does a very good job following Sirius's dog's thoughts and, later, as he comes to remember his past life, his 'adult' luminary awareness. The book is so well written, with more grown-up elements thrown in to boot (Kathleen, for example, is Irish and living in England at a time when the IRA was quite active) that any one of any age should enjoy it. (As an addendum: Jones anticipates two of J.K. Rowlings' mainstays: orphans living with horrible relatives and, in her Chrestomanci books, a world divided into magic and non-magic people in which 'magic' children attend 'magic' school and so forth--Rowlings is by no means a copycat, but for those who liked the Harry Potter series, try Jones as well. She writes with enough edge and seriousness to keep adults interested and stretch kids' minds.)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book by Jones. I Read it one day when I was sick and I read it agian the next night. I Recommened this book it's a good read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a really great book for magic lovers. I love the author. Sirius is a kind, loving dog, always ready to defend his owner, Kathleen. In this book you relize that you have to know a person really well before you let them be your friend. Sirius made a mistake with his companion, how mean she was and just wanting to take over his sphere. This is a great book for all ages.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book about 20 years ago, when I was about 20 years old. Haven't seen it since. But I still remember not only the plot line and the characters, but also the subtle and convincing way the dogstar's translation into an actual dog is handling: how he has to struggle into consciousness of himself both as a dog and as an (ex-)star with a mission. Highly recommended, good read, well written.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Dogsbody' was a wonderful book. It tells the story of Sirius, the Dogstar, who was unjustly accused of a crime. As punishment, he is sent to Earth as a dog. He has the usual lifespan of a dog to prove his innocence; if not, he dies forever. Upon his arrival on Earth he is adopted by a very loving young girl, but one who is mistreated by the family who has taken her in. He works to protect his mistress and find a way to be reinstated as a star. I greatly enjoyed this book. All of the main characters are well-rounded, and the plot is well-done. It would be nice if a discription was given of the object Sirius serached for (I believe it was called a 'zoi'), but it's possible to guess enough about it without being explicitly told. The idea of a star coming to life as an earth creature is also interesting and unique. All in all, definitely worth reading.