My Dog, My Hero
Byars, B., Duffey, B., & Myers, L. (2000). My dog, my hero. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, LLC.
This collection of eight short stories focuses on the heroic acts of eight fictional dogs: Smiley, Bear, Munchkin, Buster, Blue, Bit, Dopey, and Old Dog. The heroic acts include saving a girl from a bull, saving another dog, warning someone of a poisonous snake, finding trapped people after a tornado, and several other similar acts. The most heart wrenching act was done by the dog, Little Bit. This dog gives love and encourages a new love of life in a little old lady living in a nursing home.
One of the dogs is to be chosen as the winner of the “My Hero” medal. The stories are submitted by people who witnessed or were affected by the heroic act. Old Dog wins the award as he saved many lives and overcame physical adversities.
Children love heroic stories and dogs and will therefore not be disappointed by this book. It is a great book for introducing short stories to school age children. I think it would be a good fit for middle grade readers in third through fifth grade.
Aside from being in the fiction section of the library, I do not think the book is clear to children that the stories are not based in fact. Many similar books exist that are true stories. I think some children may feel let down if they do not realize from the beginning that these particular dogs are fictional.
Eight people have nominated their brave dogs for the My Hero Award. Three judges will decide which dog will wear the My Hero Medal. In this book made up of eight stories, one is about Old Dog. Old Dog has a bad hip, cannot see, and is afraid of thunder. One night a tornado hit and 26 people were buried under rubble. Old Dog kept scratching, digging, and barking, until all were saved. According to the narrator, “Our town had a parade for Old Dog. When they played ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’, I played the high part on my flute and Old Dog sang and sang.” This book is a heart-warming read. Category: Adventure; Realistic Fiction. Grade Level: Primary (K-3rd grade). 2000, Henry Holt and Company. Ages 5 to 9.
Loretta. (n.d.). Bookhive. [Review of the book My dog, my hero by B. Byars, B. Duffy, & L. Myers]. Retrieved from http://www.bookhive.org.
Newbery Medal-winner Byars and daughters Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers–dog lovers all–collaborate for the first time in this collection of eight stories about extraordinarily heroic dogs. Each of the first-rate tales is told from the point of view of a contestant entering a dog in the My Hero contest. Among the entries is one from a gruff gardener who has no use for dogs until one alerts him to a poisonous snake lurking in his petunias. In another, a 93-year-old woman relates how a dog’s cold nose and loving touch transformed her after she’d given in to depression in a nursing home. Drama, humor, excitement, and love fuel these short, well-written stories that are certain to be relished by dog lovers. The selections can also provide students in English classes with excellent examples of point of view, characterization, and plot construction. Loren Long’s evocative full-color artwork not only shows off each canine but also invites readers into the crises and emotions of the episodes. Category: Books for Middle Readers–Fiction. 2000, Holt, $16. Gr. 3-6.
Mandel, E., (2001, January 1). [Review of the book My dog, my hero by B. Byars, B. Duffy, & L. Myers]. Booklist 97(9). Retrieved from http://www.booklistonline.com/
Uses in the Library
This book would work well to introduce elementary age children to short stories. A story or two could be read aloud. The parts of a story could be discussed: main characters, setting, problem, solution, and conclusion. The point can be made that all stories, no matter the length, contain these vital elements. To conclude the unit, the students could write their own short story with a pet as the hero, whether this be their actual pet or one they would like to have.