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4.5 6
by Michael Northrop

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A troubled teen. A rescued Rottweiler. An unlikely friendship.

Jimmer "JD" Dobbs is back in town after spending the summer "upstate." No one believes his story about visiting his aunt, and it's pretty clear that he has something to hide. It's also pretty clear that his mom made a new friend while he was away---a rescued Rottweiler that JD

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A troubled teen. A rescued Rottweiler. An unlikely friendship.

Jimmer "JD" Dobbs is back in town after spending the summer "upstate." No one believes his story about visiting his aunt, and it's pretty clear that he has something to hide. It's also pretty clear that his mom made a new friend while he was away---a rescued Rottweiler that JD immediately renames Johnny Rotten (yes, after that guy in the Sex Pistols). Both tough but damaged, JD and Johnny slowly learn to trust each other, but their newfound bond is threatened by a treacherous friend and one snap of Johnny's powerful jaws. As the secrets JD has tried so hard to keep under wraps start to unravel, he suddenly has something much bigger to worry about: saving his dog.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sixteen-year-old Jimmer Dobbs, known to his friends as JD, returns from a vague absence “upstate” to find that his mother has replaced him with a Rottweiler from a rescue shelter. JD christens the dog Johnny Rotten (after the Sex Pistols singer), but because the dog has been abused, it takes a while for Johnny Rotten to trust the new man around the house. When Johnny Rotten bites one of JD’s friends, the friend’s family smells a payday and files suit. Because the dog has bitten before, his days are likely numbered. This JD cannot abide. He attempts to bribe the friend into dropping the lawsuit by coming clean about his summer away. Northrop (Trapped) has a keen eye for the way teens move through the world (one of JD’s buddies never parks when picking him up. He “just rolls to a stop along the side of the road, like it’s a bank heist”) and for the mix of bravado and vulnerability that can drive boys’ friendships and interactions. A sure bet for any reader who loves an underdog, human or canine. Ages 12–up. Agent: Sara Crowe, Harvey Klinger. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

Praise for TRAPPED

"Compelling . . . Michael Northrop deftly describes teens who are tested by the endless snow." --USA TODAY

"A gripping disaster story . . . Northrop's solid storytelling should keep readers rapt." --PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"An edge-of-your-seat experience . . . Just as he did in GENTLEMEN, Northrop gets at the core of human nature through masterful pacing." --KIRKUS REVIEWS

Praise for GENTLEMEN

"Northrop's first novel is creepy, yet it has what can pass for a happy -- or at least satisfying -- ending." --THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

"A riveting thriller . . . This is a rare sort of book that may work just as well for reluctant readers as it will avid ones." --BOOKLIST

Children's Literature - Miranda McClain
When people took one look at Jimmer "JD" Jobs all they saw was trouble. The same could be said for his dog Johnny Rotten, a rescued Rottweiler. Both look like they are no good on the outside but under that tough-guy exterior both the boy and the dog just want people to like them. Unfortunately, most people do not get past appearances so JD and Johnny have to look out for each other. At first JD is wary of his new family member. He was not expecting to be greeted by a massive four legged beast that is almost all jaws when he got home from a summer "up state," but the two slowly get used to each other. Then one of JD's goof-off friends gets bitten and the trouble really begins. This powerful story about friendship and redemption will have readers routing for these two underdogs despite their rough outer shell and cheering at the happy ending that will hopefully mean a new beginning for JD and Johnny. JD's authentic voice will resonate with many readers who find themselves being judged unfairly, which is probably most teenagers on any given day. Reviewer: Miranda McClain
VOYA - Anjeanette Alexander-Smith
Jimmer "JD" Dobbs is a young boy who returns home after an unexplained long-term absence to find out there is a new addition to the family: a large Rottweiler who is more bark than bite. His mom adopted the rescue dog while he was away. JD and the dog he names Johnny Rotten have much in common—people judge them on their appearances or their mistakes. JD reunites with his friends and shares the news about Johnny Rotten with them. They are anxious to see him, but Mars is a little too eager. He jumps the fence and corners Johnny Rotten. Being cornered reminds the dog of the times its previous owner chained him and beat him, so Johnny Rotten bites his hand. This incident causes problems for JD and his mom. Mars's parents use the injury as an opportunity to make money. They find Johnny Rotten's previous owner and ask him to serve as a witness in their case to have Johnny Rotten put to sleep. JD struggles to keep Johnny Rotten alive and realizes that sharing the truth about his absence may be the key. Northrop's writing style engages adolescents because he depicts JD as the typical teenager who makes mistakes but is still a kid trying to find himself. His characterization makes the reader connect and empathize with each of the characters. This book will appeal to boys who prefer a narrative that does not involve typical paranormal romance. Teachers can use this book with other classic novels that explore the relationship between a young boy and a dog, and tie it into a theme on animal abuse. This book will appeal to readers of all ages. Reviewer: Anjeanette Alexander-Smith
Kirkus Reviews
Sixteen-year-old Jimmer "JD" Dobbs returns from a summer "upstate" and struggles to get his bearings at home and stay out of trouble. But trouble finds JD. His mother has adopted a seriously mistreated rescue dog, figuring JD and the dog "could both get new starts." But JD knows that "clean starts are a frickin' myth," that the past has a way of following them. JD names the Rottweiler Johnny Rotten, after the lead singer of the Sex Pistols. He's JR for short, with a head the size of a cinder block and the amazing ability to leap through the air like the sharks he saw on Air Jaws, snatching biscuits and partially devouring them before landing. However, JR bites Jimmer's friend Mars, and Mars' mother decides to sue, putting at risk the Dobbs' house and the life of the dog. Readers may well wonder why no information about JD's clearly euphemistic summer "upstate" is forthcoming, but the novel is cleverly orchestrated, and his secret is eventually revealed as he looks for a way to save the dog he has come to love. JD's voice rings true, as does his occasional bonehead decision-making and his tentative steps toward empathy. A fine portrayal of a boy, a dog and the ties of friends. (Fiction. 12-16)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—JD Dobbs must pull his life back together after a summer spent "visiting his aunt," a story no one in town believes. While he was away, his mother acquired a rescued Rottweiler they decide to call Johnny Rotten-an initially surly dog JD unexpectedly comes to love. The 16-year-old sets out to get back into his old crowd of friends, and maybe even win back his old girlfriend, but he's still keeping secrets about his summer. When Johnny Rotten bites one of his friends, JD's world comes crashing down. Mars's parents sue; JD's mother may lose their house, and Johnny Rotten faces a likely death sentence. Plenty of teenage-boy humor keeps the tone relatively light, despite JD's troubles. Readers will root for Johnny Rotten, who was abused by his last owner, and hope for the truth to come out about what really caused the dog to bite. JD alternates between bravado and foolishness, but he's a sympathetic character, able to laugh at himself. The bond between boy and dog develops slowly and is well described. Readers will identify with JD and also recognize their own friendships and dynamics as the four male friends interact. JD's relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Jane, is not well fleshed out, nor is romance the focus of the book, but his feelings for her are clear. The ending is satisfying without feeling forced or predictable. This is a compelling read, sure to appeal to boys with its humor, music references, and realistic characters.—Miranda Doyle, Lake Oswego School District, OR

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)
670L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 16 Years

Meet the Author

Michael Northrop is the New York Times bestselling author of TombQuest, an epic book and game adventure series featuring the magic of ancient Egypt. He is also the author of Trapped, an Indie Next List Selection, and Plunked, a New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing Selection and an NPR Backseat Book Club Pick. An editor at Sports Illustrated Kids for many years, he now writes full-time from his home in New York City. Learn more at

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