The Spotted Dog Last Seenby Jessica Scott Kerrin
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code penciled in the margins of mystery novels at a public library, Derek Knowles-Collier discovers a time capsule, an unpublished author and a gravestone that may finally put his haunting past to rest.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
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code penciled in the margins of mystery novels at a public library, Derek Knowles-Collier discovers a time capsule, an unpublished author and a gravestone that may finally put his haunting past to rest.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!
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)
"Trevor is a sweet character, a little neurotic but ultimately good-natured, the introverted foil to many of the rambunctious boy characters that frequent middle-grade novels." National Post
"With a measured pace that allows for character development, the story unfolds in a steady, satisfying way." Booklist
"A poignant companion to the previous volume." School Library Journal
"Funny, absorbing and touching, The Missing Dog is Spotted resonates with the riches to be found in unexpected friendships and the importance of connection, however transient it may be." National Reading Campaign
“Going far beyond mystery book conventions, Spotted Dog Last Seen is also a well-told story of growth and self-forgiveness.” — School Library Journal, starred review
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
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. She lives in Halifax, Canada.
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