Friskative Dog [NOOK Book]


Sharron was five when her father gave her the Friskative Dog. And just like the best-loved toys from The Velveteen Rabbit, Sharron has made the Friskative Dog real through her love and devotion.

Now Sharron is nine, and her father is missing, and the Friskative Dog is more necessary to her than ever. Her father walked out about a year ago and has been lost to her ever since....
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Friskative Dog

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Sharron was five when her father gave her the Friskative Dog. And just like the best-loved toys from The Velveteen Rabbit, Sharron has made the Friskative Dog real through her love and devotion.

Now Sharron is nine, and her father is missing, and the Friskative Dog is more necessary to her than ever. Her father walked out about a year ago and has been lost to her ever since. If he were a dog, he'd be able to find his way home, Sharron thinks. But people don't have the same homing instincts as dogs. And you can't train them to be true.

The Friskative Dog is about a young girl coming to accept that families can take all different shapes and sizes, and learning to live with hope and patience.

Susan Straight has written a spare, delicate story, rich in metaphor and meaning, and full of love.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this unusually told story, nine-year-old Sharron lives with her mother, Karen, and clings to her stuffed dog as though he were real, in the wake of her father's disappearance a year ago. About halfway through the novel, which unfolds mostly from Sharron's limited perspective, the girl overhears her grandmother telling her mother that her father has begun a new life with another woman. Karen seems to accept the situation better than Sharron, who likens her father to a wandering coyote and, even more oddly, ruminates on the relationship between dog tags and human identity changes. The true drama takes place in Sharron's school, where two spoiled girls begin bullying Sharron and stealing her dog. The often jarring narrative slips in tense, time and point of view. Although the tale centers on an elementary student, the book's complex structure and some haiku-like metaphors may well challenge even adult readers' imaginations: "The fog hung over the pool, making diamonds on the black iron railings, swirling around the carports." Things work out well enough in the end; Sharron and her mother carry on with their lives. However, it's difficult to pinpoint who might be the appropriate audience for Straight's (I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots) curious novel. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Amber Hurt
Straight's first children's novel deals with the grief and loss of fourth grader, Sharron. Her dad, a truck driver, has been missing for a year. Sharron, her mom, and her paternal grandmother struggle to go on with their lives. All three cling together as they wait for a miraculous return. Sharron clings hardest to a toy dog her father gave her when she was five years old. Vivid writing makes it easy for the reader to feel present in Sharron's life. The dialogue throughout is generally well done—rarely stilted; however, there is the question of audience. The writing and age of the main character suggest a young middle grade audience, but the character herself is hard to relate to. She has so many problems in her life that it starts to feel overdone. Sharron does not seem to have meaningful relationships with other children, preferring instead the company of her toy dog. Her father is missing, and her mom has a low paying job as a cashier at a market. They live in low rent apartments, while classmates live in new subdivisions. In addition to the loss of her father, Sharron must cope with the tormenting of the popular girls—most of which revolves around Sharron's continued insistence her toy dog is real. The novel and author are certainly not without merit, but the appeal among young readers may be limited due to an attempt to take on too much at once.
Kirkus Reviews
Word-lover Sharron labeled her stuffed dog "friskative" when she was five, because, like its owner, it was both frisky and talkative. Now nine, she is more subdued and reflective. In her small apartment, Friskative has been her pet, helping her cope with the disappearance of her trucker father. When the dog vanishes, too, her patience in coping with loss also disappears. Thanks to helpful friends and adults, Sharron recovers both her dog, taken by bullying girls in her fourth-grade classroom, and her sense of self-worth. More psychological study than plot-driven story, the beautifully written narrative moves slowly to the crisis point, providing ample opportunity for character development and loving descriptive detail about the Southern California setting. In Sharron's multicultural classroom, the privileged bullies are stereotypically blonde and class distinctions are clear. The reminder that wealthier does not equal better is repeated, but the moral is not obtrusive. The friendship and family issues will resonate with those middle-grade readers more interested in emotion than action. (Fiction. 9-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307485144
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 11/26/2008
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 1,094,636
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Susan Straight is the author of many highly acclaimed novels for adults, including Highwire Moon, a National Book Award Nominee, and I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots. She lives in California with her three daughters.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt


Sharron couldn’t sleep at night without The Friskative Dog. When she rubbed her fingers along the fur on his shoulders, sparks shone in the darkness of her bedroom, like he made his own little stars.

Now she sat with her spine against her bedroom wall, dog at her side, doing her homework. Her mother’s voice rolled along gentle and ripply and gold like water at the curb. She talked on the phone every night in her bedroom. Through the wall, Sharron couldn’t hear the words. Just the murmuring, like fingertips tracing the paint at her back.

Fourth-grade math was hard. It was November and the class was doing algebra. X stood for something you had to find out. X factor was the mystery.

Her mother always said, “Look, sweetie, I can’t help you with that math. I put the items over the magic window, and the register tells me the numbers. I just take the money and smile. I’m not the one good with math. Your father was.”

Her father was gone. He had disappeared a year ago, but still her mother talked about him at night. Sharron could tell. No laughing or joking. Her mother talked to Aunt Dickie, her sister who had moved to Germany with her husband, who was in the army. Her mother talked to her best friend, Leila, who worked with her at the market. And once a week, on Thursday nights when they were planning what to make for dinner the next night, she talked to Grandma Pat. Daddy’s mother.

Those nights, her voice was light and cheerful, and Sharron knew her mother was trying to make Grandma Pat understand that they were fine, they were waiting, they were patient.

“Have patience,” Grandma Pat said every Friday, when she came over for dinner. “They’ll find him. He got hit on the head. He doesn’t know where he is.”

Grandma Pat’s hair was always in a bun, sitting like an unbaked biscuit on her head. Cut out and round and white. Every Friday, at six-ten, she always said the same thing.

She thought he’d gotten into an accident somewhere and he had the memory disease.

“He’s got insomnia,” Grandma Pat said. She put down enchilada casserole on the table. The casserole dish had a lid always covered with steam like fog.

Sharron said, “That means he can’t sleep at night. You mean amnesia.”

“That’s the one,” Grandma Pat said. “When his memory comes back, he’ll come back. He’ll find his way.” She patted Sharron’s mother on the shoulder.

That night, Sharron sat with her back against the wall so she could feel her mother’s low voice. When his memory comes back. What if it didn’t? People didn’t know their way home like dogs did.

People couldn’t just walk across the country, like in one of her favorite books, The Incredible Journey. A man couldn’t sleep in a field at night, catch a rabbit to eat, hide in a barn, and swim across a river and then walk into his apartment a year later.

Dogs had something inside their brains. A locator. A tracker. At school, Piper said her mother’s new car had GPS. A voice that talked to the driver from the dashboard and told her mother where to go. Global Positioning System.

People didn’t have anything like that inside them.

She rubbed the softness of her dog’s ears. Dogs that accidentally got taken all the way across the state somehow found their way home. They trotted through fields and crossed streams and highways, and they showed up in their own yards dirty and tired, and still their tongues hung out when they saw their people.

They don’t have amnesia, because they love their people. Maybe my father does have insomnia, too, Sharron thought. Like me. She lay down on her bed, her back still against the wall. Her mother’s voice had stopped. I have insomnia. That’s why I need The Friskative Dog.

Her father had bought him, but her mother claimed he’d liked the rabbit better.

Her father used to say, “No, I saw this guy and knew he was the one. Those cute little ears.” Her mother used to smile and shake her head. “You wanted to get the rabbit, but I said this guy was perfect for Sharron for Christmas. She was only five, but she knew all the different kinds of dogs. Remember? Cocker spaniels and dachshunds and Dobermans. I saw this yellow Labrador retriever puppy, and I knew she had to have him. I remember how soft his fur felt.”

Her mother liked to tease Sharron about how she made up her own names for things back when she was three and four. Her mother would say, “I’ll never forget one day, out in the yard, we saw a huge bee on the bottlebrush tree, and you said, ‘Look at that bumblebee’s antlers!’

“Early in the morning, before the sun was up,” she would say sometimes, even now that Sharron was nine, “you’d hear that rumbling noise and you’d say, ‘Here comes the streetcreeper.’

“And at night, I’d be sitting with you on your bed, and we’d hear a siren, and you’d say, ‘Listen—the ambulamp is coming. Watch for the red light on the wall!’ ”

And when her father bought her the puppy and he’d danced across the floor, Sharron said, “This doggie is so friskative!”

She remembered saying that word. She didn’t need anyone to remind her.

Those were words Grandma Pat used to say about Sharron. “Look at this little girl,” her grandmother would laugh. “Just as frisky and playful as can be. And so talkative.”

Sharron’s puppy never barked. He just leapt and moved and scrambled across her bedspread while she held the leash. She kept the leash on him even when they slept. She never wanted him to run away. Every night, back then when she was small, while she lay with her dog under the covers, she had touched his hard, cold eyes to make them warm and soft with her own fingers.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2013

    Dog on cover

    I want it sooo bad! :)))))))

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Carrie Spellman for

    Sharron loves dogs more than just about anything in the world. Her favorite dog of all is the Friskative Dog. <BR/><BR/>Sharron's dad gave her the Friskative Dog when she was very little. Sure, he may be a stuffed animal to most people, but to Sharron he is real and just as much a part of the family as an actual dog would be. Especially since Sharron's dad left a year ago. Sometimes it seems like the Friskative Dog is the only connection to her dad that Sharron has left. <BR/><BR/>One day the Friskative Dog disappears, and Sharron's world, both real and imagined, begina to come crashing down. Who would take her dog? And why? And without her dog, how will she feel connected to her dad? Why would he leave them, anyway? Sharron is starting to ask the questions that everyone has been avoiding for a year now. And the answers could redefine how all of them feel about family and safety. <BR/><BR/>This is a sweet story about the strength of faith and hope, and the power of family, no matter what shape that family takes. It's also a really good book for reluctant readers -- it's easy to read and understand, without being particularly condescending. My only concern is that the characters are a bit stereotypical; however, the underlying message is a good one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2010

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