The protagonist of “No More Dead Dogs” by Gordon Korman is the school football hero, Wallace Wallace. He’s suspended from the team for writing an unfavorable review of “Old Shep, My Pal.” Not understanding why the dog in every classic novel has to die in the end, Wallace said he hated every minute of the book.
This is one of the best young adult novels I’ve read and it exactly follows my criteria for what makes a book a “must read” for sixth-graders on up through high school students..
My recipe for a great young adult novel start with one eighth-grade boy who loved his dad’s stories until he was old enough to realize they were lies. This boy understands that his dad had told many lies. Once he realized this Wallace decided he would always tell the truth. His mother stopped complaining that the dryer had shrunk her clothes after young Wallace Wallace said, “Your pants didn’t get smaller, Mommy, your butt got bigger.” Five year old children usually tell the truth!
By the time his parents were divorced Wallace would not have told a lie at gun point. Even his friends at school and his football teammates, knew Wallace was a teller of truth no matter what. Countless stories, to back this up, were known to all. Ever since he made the winning touchdown last year all his fans and friends just laughed at him when he told them he was not the greatest football player on the team. To everyone there that night Wallace was the greatest player in the county championship game!
Then you need one book review. Here is Wallace’s book review of “Old Shep, My Pal:”
“This is the most boring book I’ve read in my entire life. I did not have a favorite character. I hated everybody equally. The most interesting part came on the last page where it said “The End.” This book couldn’t be any lousier if it came with a letter bomb. I would not recommend it to my worst enemy.”
Next the recipe needs an English teacher who is the writer of the school play, “Old Shep, My Pal.” Mr. Fogelman loved the book and thought it was well worthy of the award it won.
Add in a football coach working with a losing team; after a short conversation with Mr. Fogelman, coach Wrigley agreed to send Wallace detention.
Mix in his football teammates who are worried that without Wallace being able to practice, the team will lose another game. Thinking that he could be released from detention under the right circumstances, teammates want to help Wallace by rewriting his book review. They think that if the review is positive, Wallace will be released.
Stir in Rachel Turner, president of the Drama Club and writer of letters to Julia Roberts. Julia knows Rachel’s most secret thoughts about the play and the problems with it.
Blend in the Drama Club members who were unhappy with the way the play was shaping up. Now Wallace Wallace was taking part in their play! While that could be a big draw to have the football hero in their play, things started going wrong with Wallace in the play.
The trouble with the play started the next day when Wallace Wallace came to practice. The paint on the scenery had been changed from “Old Shep, My Pal” to “Old Shep, Dead Mutt.” Everyone thought Wallace did it. That was just the start of the troubles that hindered the play’s progress.
Gordon Korman has written over 50 books for middle school students and young adults. Mr. Korman uses humor and his knowledge of his subjects to produce an enjoyable book for anyone who likes dogs and children.
Many of Mr. Korman’s books are available in the Knox County Public Library’s Youth Department.