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Ghost Dog Secrets

Review

Ghost Dog Secrets

Rusty Larson is a sixth grader who would like to have a dog of his own, but this is out of the question. When Rusty was eight years old, his dad was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Since then, his mom has had to work to make ends meet, and they cannot afford to care for a pet.

One frigid October morning while riding to school, Rusty sees a dog chained to a tree and shivering in the cold. At school he can’t get the German shepherd out of his mind --- that is, until his teacher Mrs. Webster announces a pop quiz. Worrying about the dog and taking a test are bad enough, but he also has to watch out for Gerald Langston, the class bully who copies from his paper.

During a class discussion later that day, Mrs. Webster encourages Rusty and his classmates to get involved whenever they see a problem in the community. As a class project, the students decide to help shut down local puppy mills. They plan to raise money and donate items to care for the animals and help them find good homes.

Rusty decides to sneak into the German shepherd’s yard and care for him without the owner’s knowledge. With good intentions, but little money, he enlists the help of his best friend, Andrew. One day, while Rusty is feeding the dog, he feels something rub against his leg. When he looks up, he sees another dog in the middle of the yard. But it’s not real. It’s a ghost dog that shows up at inconvenient times. After Rusty contacts the authorities and reports the abuse, the situation worsens. How far will he go to rescue the injured and neglected canine?

GHOST DOG SECRETS, by award-winning author Peg Kehret, deftly weaves ethical dilemmas and contemporary issues such as bullying and animal abuse into a suspenseful story. While rooting for Ra, the abused German shepherd, and the ghost dog, readers will ponder, along with Rusty, the gray areas of right and wrong: Is it ever okay to lie, steal, sneak out at night and keep secrets from one’s parents? This book should delight middle-graders who love stories about dogs, mysteries --- and unusual ghosts.

Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt on September 15, 2011

Ghost Dog Secrets
by Peg Kehret

  • Publication Date: September 15, 2011
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin
  • ISBN-10: 0142419648
  • ISBN-13: 9780142419649