One Small Dog

One Small Dog

4.3 3
by Johanna Hurwitz, Diane de Groat, Diane Degroat

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All Curtis wants is a dog.

At the animal shelter, Curtis falls in love with Sammy, a friendly puppy with curly black fur, floppy ears, a wagging tail, and perfect white teeth. He's the best dog in the whole world.

At home, things are different-Sammy steals food and chews sneakers and toys-but Curtis loves him anyway. Then Sammy bites Curtis

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All Curtis wants is a dog.

At the animal shelter, Curtis falls in love with Sammy, a friendly puppy with curly black fur, floppy ears, a wagging tail, and perfect white teeth. He's the best dog in the whole world.

At home, things are different-Sammy steals food and chews sneakers and toys-but Curtis loves him anyway. Then Sammy bites Curtis's mom, and Curtis has to face the fact that Sammy's not perfect after all.

Will Curtis have to give Sammy up? Or will he do whatever it takes to keep his dog?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Hurwitz raises two difficult issues [divorce and pet ownership] responsibly and credibly," said PW. "DeGroat's finely etched, black-and-white illustrations underscore the genuine emotion that runs through this elucidating story." Ages 7-up. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hurwitz (Make Room for Elisa) affectingly treats two familiar themes in the plot of her latest novel divorce and pet ownership and places the rigors of childhood front and center. Ten-year-old Curtis, smarting from his parents' recent separation, narrates in a candid and endearing voice. For instance, in his response to his mother's statement that "half the couples in the United States are getting divorced these days," and he'll get used to it, he says: "`Yeah. But it stinks. Why couldn't we be part of the half that stays together?' I wanted to say more, but I was afraid I'd start crying." In an effort to make him happier, his mother agrees to Curtis's pleas for a dog, a request that his parents have turned down in the past. They head to a shelter, and the quickly adopted Sammy seems to be a panacea for Curtis's malaise. Yet several mishaps reveal the complications of owning a dog, the most serious of which occur when the feisty pooch bites Curtis's mother, three-year-old brother and--in a final wrenching scene--Curtis himself. In a concluding note to this poignant tale, a professional dog trainer emphasizes the importance of proper training of dogs. Hurwitz raises two difficult issues responsibly and credibly, and deGroat's finely etched, black-and-white illustrations underscore the genuine emotion that runs through this elucidating story. Ages 7-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-Not your usual boy-and-his-dog story, this tale comes with a few hard-earned lessons about responsible pet ownership. Fourth-grader Curtis lives in an apartment with his recently separated mother and younger brother, Mitchell. To help compensate for the pending divorce, Curtis's mother goes against her better judgment and allows him to select a puppy from an animal shelter. The one he chooses turns out to be a chewer. Having owned the dog only two weeks, Curtis's mother decides they cannot keep Sammy after he bites her and Mitchell. While attempting to run away with his pet, Curtis is bitten. After six stitches, he realizes that his mother is right, and his father gives Sammy to a friend who has the time and patience to train him. Hurwitz's story has no happily-ever-after ending but makes a strong statement about the consequences of taking a responsibility too lightly. DeGroat's realistic drawings are a bonus. A good message for aspiring or prospective pet owners.-Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.22(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Bad News and the Good

I started biting my nails the spring that I was in fourth grade. My schoolwork got worse and worse then too. Finally, after a couple of warnings, my teacher, Mrs. Richmond, phoned my mom to set up a conference.

Afterward Mom said, “Mrs. Richmond didn't know about the divorce.”

“It's not something I go around talking about,” I told her.

“Maybe not. But she said that under the circumstances it explained your behavior.”

I shrugged my shoulders. What could I say? My whole life changed on the night before the night before Christmas, when my parents told Mitchell and me the news that they were getting divorced. Mitch didn't understand. How could he?

He's only three years old. When he heard that we'd be moving to a new apartment, he thought it would be fun. After all, he didn't have a good friend living two floors above. Mitch also liked the idea of visiting Dad on the weekends and eating frozen dinners, which is all Dad knows how to cook. The news didn't upset Mitchell at all.

Of course, after I heard about the divorce, Christmas was really lousy. My dad hadn't moved out yet, but he kept out of the way. Also, when I looked at the computer games that I had asked for as presents, I realized that now they would be useless. Dad was sure to take the computer with him when he moved. I knew it was pretty dumb to be upset about the computer, but if I thought about that, I didn't have to think about my dad and mom splitting up.

At first when I heard about the divorce, I kept hoping it was only temporary. I remembered when one of the girls in my class named Jessie came to school intears because her parents had split up. Then, a few weeks later, she came in all excited and with good news. They had gotten back together again. That could happen in my family too, I thought. But it didn't.

Right after the New Year, Dad moved out. He sublet an apartment way downtown, and just as I thought, he took the computer and some of our furniture with him. It seemed strange to be living with just Mom and Mitch. Life was a whole lot quieter without the loud jazz music that my father listened to all the time. And no yelling or screaming going on.

Thinking back, I realized my parents rarely spoke to each other. They just yelled all the time. I know that lots of parents fight.

I've heard it when I've gone to visit my friends. Once when I was staying over at

Josh Bumpus's house for supper, I saw Josh's mother throw a plateful of tuna noodle casserole on the floor when his father complained that he didn't want to eat that slop. I was amazed. But then Josh's mother started laughing, and his father helped clean up the mess. Afterward Josh's father ate two servings of tuna noodle casserole to prove that he was sorry.

My mom never threw a plateful of food on the floor, but she never started laughing with my dad in the middle of a fight either.

The good news was that even though we moved, I didn't have to change schools. But I did have to share my bedroom with Mitchell. What's worse, at Dad's apartment, I had to share more than a bedroom. Mitch and I slept together on a pullout sofa. And just between you and me, even though Mitch has been toilet trained for the last year, he still has accidents at night.

After we moved, Mitch began having accidents all the time. Even during the day. And when we went to spend the weekend with Dad, Mitch cried when we left Mom. Then he cried again when Dad brought us back home.

I knew just how he felt. Lots of times I wanted to cry too. But when you're almost ten years old, it's not cool to act like a baby. So I didn't cry, but I guess that's when I began biting my nails.

I never saw my mom cry either. But sometimes her eyes were red when she woke up in the morning. And once when we were sitting together watching a video, she began wiping her eyes.

“What's the matter?” I asked her as she blew her nose into a tissue.

It felt strange seeing her tears.

“This is a sad movie,” she said. Well, it was a little sad. But I don't think that was why she was crying.

Gradually, though, my mom seemed to become more cheerful. She said our new apartment, which was the top floor of an old brownstone house owned by friends of hers, had more character than the modern high-rise building we had left behind. She cut down our old curtains to fit the new windows and seemed to enjoy moving the furniture and deciding the best place for those pieces that she had kept for herself.

Our apartment might have had charm, but it sure was small. There were just two bedrooms, and even though Mitch and I shared the larger one, it was smaller than the room I used to have to myself.

Mitch was always underfoot. I'd be doing my homework, and he would push my arm, making me mess up my paper.

“What you doing?” he always wanted to know.


“What's math?” he asked me.

“You'll find out when you grow up.”

“When's that?”

He was driving me bananas. I never had a minute of privacy. Now that we were on top of each other, I found myself yelling at him a lot. It sounded as if we were headed for a breakup too. But kids can't divorce their younger brothers.

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Meet the Author

Johanna Hurwitz is the award-winning author of more than sixty popular books for young readers, including Faraway Summer; Dear Emma; Elisa Michaels, Bigger & Better; Class Clown; Fourth-Grade Fuss; and Rip-Roaring Russell, an American Library Association Notable Book. Her work has won many child-chosen state awards. A former school librarian, she frequently visits schools around the country to talk about her books. Mrs. Hurwitz and her husband divide their time between Great Neck, New York, and Wilmington, Vermont.

Diane deGroat is the illustrator of more than 120 children's books and the author-illustrator of bestselling books about Gilbert, including Ants in Your Pants, Worms in Your Plants! (Gilbert Goes Green); April Fool! Watch Out at School!; Mother, You're the Best! (But Sister, You're a Pest!); Last One in Is a Rotten Egg!; and the New York Times bestseller Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink. Diane lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

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One Small Dog 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was good but sad.The mother in a way is dumb.You have to train the dog.My name is Ashley(I am 12) and my grandparents dog nips(he dosen't draw blood) but we didn't give him away.When he does we give him a smack.So its a good book but don't thimk you should follow its advice
Guest More than 1 year ago
Curtis thought he got the best dog, but it wasn't! I learned from the book to do research and look carefully before getting a dog. She is a good writer for kids like me: who like dogs, whose parents are divorced and who live in NYC!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about a boy named Curtis and one small black dog named Sammy. After his parents get divorced, Curtis's mom gets him a dog to cheer him up. Curtis soon finds out that owning a dog is much harder than it looks. Sammy is a handful because he doesn't like to be left alone, he barks when he is lonely, and he has a tendency to bite. Curtis loves his dog very much, but the biting must stop or Sammy must go! Will Curtis figure out how to keep Sammy, or will he have to return him...