Monday, December 17, 2012

Book Review and Giveaway of "A Dog's Life"

Book Review of “A Dog’s Life” by Ann M Martin

Review by Carolyn Mullin  12.13.12

Book Description
Publication Date: January 1, 2007 | Age Level: 8 and up
Newbery Honor author Ann Martin's "heartwrenching and heartwarming" (Kirkus) dog story, now in paperback, with After Words bonus material.

Squirrel and her brother Bone begin their lives in a toolshed behind someone's summer house. Their mother nurtures them and teaches them the many skills they will need to survive as stray dogs. But when their mother is taken from them suddenly and too soon, the puppies are forced to make their own way in the world, facing humans both gentle and brutal, busy highways, other animals, and the changing seasons. When Bone and Squirrel become separated, Squirrel must fend for herself, and in the process makes two friends who in very different ways define her fate.

Product Details
Ann M. Martin

From Wikipedia

Ann M. Martin is the bestselling author of the momentous series The Baby-sitters Club, as well as the Main Street series. Her other acclaimed novels include "A Dog's Life," "Belle Teal," "Here Today," and the Newbery Honor Book "A Corner of the Universe." She lives in upstate New York. For more information, visit

First Pages: 



I believe that there is a time and place (be it reading to your kids, be it reading for yourself)_ that young books are meant for adults like myself to enjoy.  Christmas is a time of hectic running around (like today is the day to work on the Christmas tree and it’s almost 3pm and nothing has gone up on the tree yet except for lights!)  But there is a lighted bow on the front door and today I can ask my husband to work on the outside of the house! Lol)  

This book is just incredible told from the viewpoint of the dog.  Puppies Squirrel and Bone come into this world in a tool shed behind a summer house.  Sounds like your typical stray, right?The tool shed has cats, birds and mice.  But who would say that there isn’t room a couple more?  I know that when we lived in our house inland, I said that since there was a dog house that my stray (“BEAR”) who was in her last two weeks of pregnancy and found wandering around LA.  Will tell that story on my blog sometime!

Squirrel and Bone, alongside their mother, take up residence in a wheelbarrow inside the tool shed. While food is scarce, and often hard to find, the family is warm, and safe from predators. During their short time in the tool shed, Squirrel and Bone learn the rules of hunting from their mother. She disappears one day, after setting out for food, Squirrel and Bone know that they must leave the shed in the hopes of finding a better life for themselves. 

When the two siblings are separated, Squirrel must get used to being alone. That is, until she meets up with Moon, another dog who resembles Bone. Over the course of their time together, they meet up with humans - both good and bad - and many dangerous obstacles that stand in their way to make a better life for themselves, but they never give up hope, and keep trucking, dreaming of a day when things will be better for themselves.

When I was teaching in the classroom 17 years ago I would buy the BABY-SITTERS CLUB books by Ann M. Martin.  The students were severely emotionally challenged Middle School children  in their residential facility.  These books allowed my students to travel into the lives of the ones that they were reading! 
As a rescuer of dogs back when we lived inland in a house (lost in the crash) and we moved to the beach to rent!  And we love this too ….  Because we are beach lovers!   

I’m an avid animal lover (rescued guinea pigs, rats, birds, rabbits, and  a chinchilla along with three rescues (a blind puppy that we trained to be able to live in a home and adopted her out to the lady who also wanted her but she wasn’t able to train her like we did, a Basenji with lots of emotional issues and then the Labrador Retriever who had her 11 puppies in a wonderful birthing box in our bedroom and we raised them and adopted them out through the Humane Society!)   Those were all adopted out (with incredible stories for all of them) and were strays sent to kill shelters and we rescued them, fostered them and then adopted them all out.   We now have another stray (of 8 years living at our beach house  and is 10 years old today!) and that is Sandie (Sharpei Mix) and had been returned to the kill shelter TWICE.
I was so excited to find A DOG’S LIFE.  It will make you so engrossed that you will have to finish the book in one day.  A DOG’S LIFE does tell the brutal life of a stray animal.  The abuse was as is usually happening …  at the hand of humans… kind and unkind.  And it tells what they go through on a day by day basis to simply find some food.  The story is told in the first person- rather dog person- a narrative by Squirrel.  This book by Martin will be an incredible novel for readers of all ages.  This book just touched the hearts of all, and all in the hope of someday, all animals will live in peace, and none will be left "unwanted."

At this time of year I think of the homeless and “unwanted” who are on the streets in our county who live outside in the cold in tents and down by the riverside in the next town over, and for the ones who come to the shelters it is so much better.  I am volunteering at a women with their children shelter that has steps to get out and make it on their own given time and being taught what to do to qualify for a job, taking care of their children who needed to be removed from their home.  My husband and I also put together school items and Christmas items in shoe boxes for BOYS and MOM, and GIRLS and MOM. 

We’re delivering them to the shelter soon!  And then we will go to Rescue Mission (that the women’s shelter is connected to!)  and take a boxes of food and clothes and my AVON products that have sat on the shelf for a year!    We really enjoy serving them in whatever way we can!

Maybe you  can take some time to check out the rescue shelters and if nothing else, you could go to their online sites and share pictures of the strays and unwanted online!  We have a 20 year old list called NO MORE HOMELESS ANIMALS on Yahoo groups where we do this with many others!  The response to that and the ABUSED animals list have helped so many animals all over the United States!  
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John Mullin said...

Once I started reading this book I didn't put it down until I was finished. The story is that captivating, and although it is intended for children, it would be a great book for adults. The story is told from the view point of a dog and presents lessons that we could all benefit from.

MD Kennedy said...

I loved this book so much I gave a signed copy to my Dad (an awesome dog lover) for Christmas! I highly recommend it!

chattykat59 said...

Thank you for the review. I ndefinitely want to read this one!

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