In her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott says, “For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

My hope is that this is what books become to you—as important as almost anything else on earth. This blog is about helping you find the miracle in these small, flat, rigid squares of paper while you are in middle school and beyond. Once you read alongside me, you are forever a member of my tribe of readers. No matter how you old you are, when you need to be reminded of the power of a good story, you will find me here, waiting to place one in your hands.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

HOUND DOG TRUE by Linda Urban

copyright date: September 2011
primarily marketed for:  intermediate readers (9 and up)

Donalyn Miller, one of my hero teachers, wrote a review (on the Nerdy Book Club blog) of Hound Dog True by Linda Urban that made me feel I had to read this book.  The thing she said that was particularly convincing was this:

But have you ever read a book and loved it so much that you didn’t want to share it with anyone? As if the moment you told someone, the book would melt like a snowflake in a hot palm or wilt like a picked flower.

This is how I feel about Hound Dog True. Some books you read and some books read you and some books fit right under your ribs, so you can carry them with you.

I think that’s the kind of book everyone needs to read. 

Hound Dog True is the story of 5th grader Mattie Breen.  Mattie and her mom temporarily move in with her uncle so that they will be around to care for him while he has surgery on his knee in a few months.  Mattie is tired of moving.  Tired of being the new girl.  So she cooks up a plan to become her uncle’s apprentice.  He is the custodian at the elementary school.  She figures if she works with him during lunch and recess, she can avoid the most awkward moments of the day. 

So in the last few weeks of summer, she follows her uncle around and keeps track of all sorts of custodial wisdom in her notebook.  She used to use her notebook for writing stories, but then something happened to cause her to stop telling stories. 

Through an unlikely friendship, a traumatic accident, and some wise words from her principal, “You can’t have brave without scared,” Mattie learns to open up and tell her stories again.  She even has some hard talks and grows closer to her mother as a result. 

Hound Dog True is pure Linda Urban story magic.  It is a story for younger readers and older readers who are young at heart and who understand the power of story to impact lives.

Reading Threads:


  1. I'm in the middle of this, Christy, & so far, little has happened which makes me very nervous about everyone. Thanks for the review, & I also like the threads you're sharing-good to have a whole group to turn to. I haven't read the first one in the list, but all of the others I know are special.

  2. I did think this one was rather on the young side. It would be a really tough sell for an 8th grader.