The Spotted Dog Last Seen

Overview


While tracking clues from a secret code penciled in the margins of mystery novels at a public library, Derek Knowles-Collier discovers a time capsule, an unpublished author and a gravestone that may finally put his haunting past to rest. At Queensview Elementary, grade-six students are required to complete a community service unit as part of their school curriculum, and Derek is assigned to repair duty at the local cemetery.

Derek is not happy about his assignment. When he was ...

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Overview


While tracking clues from a secret code penciled in the margins of mystery novels at a public library, Derek Knowles-Collier discovers a time capsule, an unpublished author and a gravestone that may finally put his haunting past to rest. At Queensview Elementary, grade-six students are required to complete a community service unit as part of their school curriculum, and Derek is assigned to repair duty at the local cemetery.

Derek is not happy about his assignment. When he was very young, his friend Dennis was killed by a car after running into the road to catch a ball. Ever since, Derek has had recurring nightmares, and he is afraid that spending time in a cemetery will make it even harder for him to sleep through the night. When it rains, the lessons take place in the nearby public library. One day, a book arrives at the library, an anonymous donation that happens every year. On reading the book, Derek and his group mates find a secret code written on an inside margin. One code leads to the next, with the last code leading the students to a time capsule. The book includes a secret code for readers to decipher!

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

A New York Public Library Book for Sharing and Reading
Finalist for the CLA Book of the Year for Children Award

"Going far beyond mystery book conventions, Spotted Dog is also a well-told story of growth and self-forgiveness." — School Library Journal, starred review

"Derek tells his own story, allowing readers to empathize with his fears and struggles as he comes to grips with them. . . . Surprising twists and turns amid laughter and tears." — Kirkus Reviews

"The author tells this story simply yet leads readers to several climatic sections with lots of twists and turns. This realistic fiction is well-written and well-developed." — Library Media Connections

Praise for Martin Bridge: Ready for Takeoff:
"A warm, rich story for new chapter-book readers." — The Horn Book Magazine Starred Review

Children's Literature - Natalie Gurr
When Derek was a little boy, he witnessed the death of one his friends. When he is assigned to work at a cemetery as part of the sixth-grade service project, Derek is worried that he will be haunted by memories from the past. Derek soon discovers that there is more to the cemetery than old tombstones. The cemetery director, Creelman, might be a little creepy, but he has a lot of strange and interesting knowledge and Derek, in spite of his misgivings, is learning a lot about cemetery care. On rainy days Derek and his friends, Merilee and Pascal, move their cemetery service duty to the nearby public library. In the library, Merilee discovers a book with a mysterious, handwritten code inside. Together, the children search for clues and follow a trail that may just help Derek find peace. Derek's story is simple but well-told. Children will enjoy the mystery and easily relate to the feelings that Derek is dealing with. Reviewer: Natalie Gurr
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-15
A sixth-grade community-service project at the town cemetery leads to mystery, new friendships and a cathartic resolution for a troubled young boy. He and his fellow project members, each with their own quirks, meet first at the library, where they learn about cemetery maintenance from a group of elderly men led by Mr. Creelman, who barks out information and gives pop quizzes. Along the way, they discover a mystery book with a secret code scribbled in the margins, and they find all kinds of interconnections among Mr. Creelman, other members of the community, past and present, and a time capsule. The project unleashes a host of painful memories for Derek, who has persistent nightmares involving his best friend, Dennis, who was hit by a car and killed when he was chasing a ball that Derek had kicked. Kerrin makes it all work. Derek tells his own story, allowing readers to empathize with his fears and struggles as he comes to grips with them. The supporting characters are pleasingly eccentric, and the action is fast-paced. The plot is convoluted and deals with some serious issues, but it all comes together in a manner that seems perfectly reasonable. There is even a secret code for readers to solve for themselves. Surprising twists and turns amid laughter and tears. (Fiction. 9-12)
School Library Journal
★ 12/01/2013
Gr 4–7—Sixth-graders Derek, Pascal, and Merrilee are assigned volunteer work at the Twillingate Cemetery, assisting with gravestone upkeep, among other tasks. On rainy days, cotton-eyed Mr. Creelman, along with the eccentric Cemetery Brigade, instructs the trio in the nearby library on reading carvings, symbols, epitaphs, and the properties of different types of stones. Meanwhile, Merrilee discovers a trail of secret codes inside several mystery books that leads to a locker at school that is a time capsule. The more clues the friends find, the more secrets are unearthed. The more they learn from Creelman, the more Derek's fear of cemeteries lessens. Unfortunately, his nightmares about a childhood accident involving an orange rubber ball have returned to haunt him. Kerrin understands this age group and creates a sympathetic protagonist who will draw in readers. While the dialogue is sharp, the moments when Derek admits his most private feelings and recalls his nightmares for readers are standouts, as they portray authentic preteen feelings of self-doubt, self-consciousness, and even guilt. Given the subject matter, the author strikes just the right balance between gloomy ambience and lighthearted humor. While the many plot threads seem to tangle here and there, the author delivers a satisfying conclusion with all loose ends tied up. Even though Derek experiences an upsetting loss, he finds closure. Going far beyond mystery book conventions, Spotted Dog is also a well-told story of growth and self-forgiveness.—Elly Schook, Jamieson Elementary School, Chicago
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554983872
  • Publisher: Groundwood Books
  • Publication date: 8/6/2013
  • Pages: 196
  • Sales rank: 411,451
  • Age range: 8 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author


Jessica Scott Kerrin is the author of the newly launched Lobster Chronicles series and the best-selling Martin Bridge series, which has sold over 140 000 copies to date. Martin Bridge: Ready for Takeoff was chosen by both the Horn Book and the New York Public Library as one of the best books of 2005. She lives with her family and pet tortoise in downtown Halifax, where she is surrounded by historic cemeteries. She is Director for Internet Strategies and Design for the Nova Scotia government’s Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage.
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