Monday, March 2, 2015

No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman, 2000

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Nobody understands Wallace Wallace. This reluctant school football hero has been suspended from the team for writing an unfavorable book report of Old Shep, My Pal. But Wallace won't tell a lie -- he hated every minute of the book! Why does the dog in every classic novel have to croak at the end?After refusing to do a rewrite, his English teacher, who happens to be directing the school play Old Shep, My Pal, forces him go to the rehearsals as punishment. Although Wallace doesn't change his mind, he does end up changing the play into a rock-and-roll rendition, complete with Rollerblades and a moped!
(180 pages)

This is one of my all-time favorites of Korman's - and that's saying a lot! I've read the vast majority of his books, and loved the vast majority of those. His books are funny, clever, witty, and always leave you with a smile at the end of the day. I own a bunch of Gordon Kormans, but this is one of my favorites - right up there with Schooled and The Chicken Doesn't Skate. I've read it literally more times than I can count, coming back to it again and again whenever I need cheering up or a reminder of why I love to read. I finally bought my own copy with one of the gift cards I got for Christmas, and I loved re-reading it yet again! It never grows old for me, and I could literally read it over and over again and never get sick of it.

This is a character-driven book, full of characters with just enough quirk to be hilarious and charming, but not enough to be over-the-top obnoxiously quirky. The traditional school roles of the jocks and the drama nerds are simultaneously affirmed and trampled in this book where the most happening event of the school year is the play, and the star of the football team spends far more time back-stage than he does on the field.

Speaking of Wallace Wallace (no typo, his first name is also his last name!), he is both heartwarming and hilarious. He unerringly tells the truth no matter what the question, or who is listening. This means that he is absolutely, rolling-on-the-ground, hilarious when people ask him questions that really warrant a white lie, not a detailed (and completely truthful) answer. I love him for being so honest, so straightforward, and so matter-of-fact about things. He wants more than anything else to be honest, but along the way he creates a big mess.

Of course, the story is not just about Wallace. It switches POV between many other characters as well, including Rachel (president of the drama club), Trudi (Rachel's ditzy best friend with a crush on Wallace), and Mr. Fogelman (the teacher who forces Wallace to participate in the play until he writes a positive essay about Old Shep, My Pal). The POV switches often enough to keep things fresh, without confusing the reader. Every chapter is narrated in first person by a different character, but each of them has such a different voice that it is impossible to forget who is talking. My favorite narrator would have to be Rachel, because I love her by herself and because I love seeing Wallace through her eyes.

I can't put into words why exactly I love this book so much, but I do, and I wholeheartedly reccomend it to anyone and everyone. Please, read it. You'll thank me once you're finished.

2 comments:

  1. oh my goodness I totally forgot about this book! I read it in elementary school and loved it! it made me so happy to see this post :)

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad I helped you rediscover this gem! It's one of the few books I read when I was younger that lost none of its charm when I got older - it's wonderful no matter how old you are.

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