Daniel Pennac

Translated by Sarah Adams
Candlewick Press, for Scholastic Book Fairs, 2004
Originally published by Editions Nathan, Paris, France, 1982

A story of a little scruffy black dog with no physically redeeming qualities survives so many attempts to kill him, seeks for a mistress to love and be loved by.

• Dog, the runt of his litter barely survives being drowned as a newborn, falling debris in the town dump, run over by a car, being killed at the dog pound, and thrown out a car window
• Plum, the little girl who adopts him, loves him and then turns on him before falling in love with him again

Dog’s Friends:
• Black Nose, his adoptive mother who teaches him all about smells
• Woolly, an old dog he meets in the dog pound who teaches him about self-respect, dignity and bravery
• Hyena, an actual hyena-like dog who teaches him about humans

• Mrs. Squeak, Plum’s mum, who has such a high pitched voice she squeaks and she hates Dog because he is so unhygienic
• Mr. Muscle, Plum’s dad, who is big and muscle and loud and hates Dog because he is always in the way
• Wild Boar, Hyena’s human friend, who takes in Dog and gives him a safe place to land when he runs away from Plum

I will start out by saying that Dog (that’s his name) survives and the book has a happy ending; but along the way, my goodness, it broke my heart and made me laugh.

Dog is ripped away from his birth mother because the humans who bred her don’t think they can make any money with him because he is small and ugly. They drown him and throw him in the dump. Later, his adoptive mother dies right in front of him. After a few disastrous run-in’s with humans in town he is caught by the dog-catcher and unless he is adopted in three days he will die. On the last day he is adopted by Plum but he must leave his dear friend Woolly behind to die and he is heart-broken. Then his heart is broken again and again and again before he and Plum finally settle down to a happy life.

This book had me on an emotional rollercoaster with Dog’s life. It shows the best of dogs and the worst of humans. Maybe that’s what we need to remind us that small and ugly creatures deserve to live, too. The story is by turns heart-wrenching and heartwarming but it needs to be read and shared. It reminds us that life is hard and fragile and precious; but with love – unconditional love – it is heaven on earth.

We read this book as a part of the Summer Reading Challenge-2015, category: Read a book with a One Word Title.

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws for reminding us to have compassion for all the unwanted and unloved dogs, cats and other companions in our neighborhoods.

featured bobbisueReviewer: BobbieSue

Daniel Pennac

From Goodreads:

Daniel Pennac (real name Daniel Pennacchioni) is a French writer. He received the Prix Renaudot in 2007 for his essay Chagrin d’école.
After studying in Nice he became a teacher. He began to write for children and then wrote his book series “La Saga Malaussène”, that tells the story of Benjamin Malaussène, a scapegoat, and his family in Belleville, Paris.
His writing style can be humorous and imaginative like in “La Saga Malaussène”, but he has also written essays, such as “Comme un roman”, a pedagogic essay.”La Débauche”, written jointly with Jacques Tardi, treats the topic of unemployment, revealing his social preoccupations.

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