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The Leanin' Dog

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  872 ratings  ·  188 reviews
More than anything, Dessa Dean needed a friend. A friend to love and confide in, a friend with whom she could share her heart. A friend who would delight in all the beauty and joy and fun of Christmas, only four days away.

Hope had just about run out, but then . . . there came a scratchin' at the door and Dessa Dean's life was forever changed.
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 30th 2008 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,546)
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Karen
My Review of The Leanin’ Dog by K. A. Nuzum

K. A. Nuzum’s new book, The Leanin’ Dog, tells a first person narrative story about a young girl named Dessa Dean who is eleven years old. The story takes place during the winter in Colorado in the 1930s just before Christmas. Dessa is a lonely child who desperately needs a friend, especially since her mother died. She thinks she will never be happy again. Dessa is trapped. She is a victim of her own mind’s fear, the fear of leaving her home, known as a
...more
Charlyn  Trussell
Jan 18, 2010 Charlyn Trussell rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Charlyn by: Gr. 4 and up.
After sitting beside her mother in the snow and watching her slowly freeze to death, Dessa Dean has nightmares, daymares, and the inability to leave the porch of the cabin where she and her father live. She spends each day alone, studying her lessons and cooking for the two of them, grieving, while her father tends his traps set in the wild. Then a dog with an injured leg appears on the front porch and Dessa Dean seizes the opportunity to have a friend share her loneliness. But the dog is wary, ...more
Kim
From October 2008 SLJ:
Gr 47 Dessa Dean, 11, was a powerless witness as her diabetic mother froze to death when they were caught in an early-winter storm. Since then, she and her father have gone through the motions of normalcy, with him going out daily to check the traps while she stays behind to do the schoolwork he prepares and to fix their meager dinner. But things are not normal: Dessa Dean frequently relives the horror of her mother's death, and she is unable to make herself venture beyond
...more
Jolie
Let me begin by saying that I haven't been assigned a book report in a really long time! So when my daughter's teacher asked if I could read a book she was thinking about for one of her book groups, I was actually pretty thrilled. Since I was writing up a report for her, I thought I'd post it here as well:

Dessa Dean began her life in a town, but moved with her parents to a trapper’s cabin in the mountains when work dried up for her father. Now he makes a living trapping animals, selling their pe
...more
Angee O'Connell
I loved, loved, LOVED this book! The story line was captivating and I immediately fell in love with the main character. My heart went out to her and her father. When she befriends the dog, I could see the dog and the girl as they interacted with each other. The author's description of the dog as she plays with the girl is perfect (I am especially thinking of the pinecone scene...this dog must be a lab mix!) The ending is completely satisfying. If you are looking for a quick read or looking to re ...more
Ryann Murphy
Dessa Dean is recovering from the recent death of her mother and is struggling with her fear of the outdoors. One day, a rough looking dog appears on her doorstop and she soon finds out that the only way the dog will stay indoors - is with the door open! In the middle of winter in the mountains, this causes quite a few problems. Overall, this sweet story of how a dog and a girl help each other heal was quite enjoyable.

(And the dog doesn't die - a nice plus.)
Christine
Another story in which a young child has lost a parent. This makes four for me in as many months. In this case it is Dessa Dean who has lost her mother to tragic circumstances and the heartache of dealing with that loss and learning to enjoy life again with the love and help of a stray dog and a supportive dad. I really liked Dessa Dean's gumption and grit. Even though she was having a difficult time, she kept on trying.
Janet
I'm loving this on CD. There's nothing like a dog to set a girl right after a big loss! At first the rhythm of the reading was too slow and the enunciation too precise, but it grew on me to the point of appreciation. I recognize that this style really fits the pace of the story and of the often old fashioned language. The narrator has also perfected a realistic bark!
Addison Children
I should have read Schindler's List. This book was so depressing. Dessa Dean lost her mother just two months ago. Mother froze to death in a blizzard. Dessa Dean was with her! Dessa Dean's ears were terribly frost bitten and now pain her greatly, a constant reminder of the tragedy. Also, she now has agoraphobia and cannot leave the cabin. (It's historical fiction.) She is left home alone all day while her father tends his trap lines. Trapping isn't going too well either. So when the dog comes ro ...more
Shirley
Dessa Dean who can't leave her cabin meets a dog who can't stand being in closed places. Both Dessa and the dog are fighting inner battles. I found myself rooting for both characters throughout the story and couldn't wait for the end hoping that their problems would be resolved.

K. A. Nuzman has a way with words as well as the ability to wend a wonderful tale. The setting is 1935 in the Southwestern Mountains of Colorado. This is a great book for those who love dog stories as well as for those wh
...more
Kellie
A nice listen. I'm not sure if it was the cadence of the reader's voice, or her tone or pronunciations or what, but in the beginning she sounded quite reminiscent of the way the characters would talk in a Charlie Brown cartoon.

A couple of phrases seemed to be overused ("mayhap" and "of a sudden") but that could be more because they are strange to my ears and stood out to me.

I enjoyed this story. Dessa Dean and the dog found each other when they both needed someone. I loved how the dog immediate
...more
Stephanie A.
I liked the complementary pair of a young girl with PTSD who has panic attacks every time she tries to leave her cabin, and a big, gentle stray dog with equally crippling claustrophobia. Good detail about the mechanics of day-to-day survival in a rural winter cabin in the woods, as well as sweet scenes of the girl earning the dog's trust. The dog sounds much prettier than the cover, too, being longhaired with a ruff and a "feathery tail."

3.5 stars - not sure I'd read it again, but would certainl
...more
Kat
Boring in the beginning but then it gets really good
Courtney
i think this was a heart warming great story!
Bellaandalice Cullen


Love this book xoxoxo leah
Becky
I read this book in audio format. Initially I didn't think I was going to like it. It is told in the voice of a preteen girl who uses a rather formal, rural dialect that seemes to indicate the setting was in the early 20th century. (words like mayhap). I couldn't get a handle on the setting and that bothered me. I thought...early 20th century, though it could have been earlier/rural/northern clime...always cold and snowing. I loved the father...bravely trapping game to put food on the table for ...more
Kay Mcgriff
Memories trap Dessa Dean in the small cabin she shares with her father in Colorado mountains. She knows exactly how many steps it is from one point to another inside the cabin, but she doesn't know how to escape the terror of the memories that haunt her. Now Christmas is coming, and she longs for someone to share the lonely days she spends waiting for her father to come back from trapping.

Just when there seems to be no hope left, a dog comes scratching at the door. Together, the dog and Dessa De
...more
Andrea
The book The Leanin' Dog by K.A. Nuzum is about a young girl that lives out in a cabin with her dad. Dessa Dean is the young girl and with her dad and her alone, she faces time to studying by herself. She is homeschooled because she lives out where not many interesting things are. Dessa Dean's mom died in a horrific snow storm a couple months before Christmas. If a reader likes a book with adventure, then this might be the book for them. In my opinion, there were times that I was getting bored ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Sarah Bean the Green Bean Teen Queen for TeensReadToo.com

Dessa Dean is afraid to venture outside her cabin in Colorado. Not long ago, Dessa Dean and her mama were trapped outside in the snow - and mama didn't make it back alive.

Dessa Dean is tortured by daymares (nightmares that come in the daytime) and the tips of her ears, which were wounded with frostbite in the accident that claimed her mama, keep burning. She can't bring herself to leave the safety of inside and is wracked by g
...more
Kristahastings
The Leanin’ Dog by K.A. Nuzum
The International Reading Association Children’s and Young Adult’s Book Award is given to new authors worldwide. The award is nominates authors that show a special promise for writing books for young readers. In 1987, the first two awards were presented and a third was added in 1995. Now there are a total of six to include Primary, Intermediate and Young Adult Fiction, Non-Fiction.
The first novel by K.A Nuzum is a sweet and poignant story called The Leanin’ Dog. Be
...more
Eva Mitnick
If things had happened differently, Dessa Dean might be happily doing schoolwork with her mom and anticipating another happy Christmas with her parents in their isolated cabin in the woods. Or maybe she would be chafing at spending another lonely winter with only her parents for company, in a cabin with no electricity, plumbing, or separate rooms. Either way, it would be a very different story.

But Dessa Dean’s mom died in the cold less than two months ago and Dessa Dean’s world has shrunk to her
...more
Suebee
I was a little worried that "The Leanin' Dog" would put off readers right away with its heavy tone...little girl Dessa Dean (11) has just lost her mother in a snowstorm (47 days ago). Dessa's mother was diabetic and they had been out too long without insulin. Dessa suffers from nightmares and "daymares" where she relives the incident, in which she also lost the tops of her ears to frostbite. It is December (in the 1920s? late 1800s? book never says) and she lives alone with her father in a remot ...more
Kristy Sikora
Summarizing:
This is a heartwarming story set in Colorado in the 1930s. A girl, Dessa Dean, has recently experienced her diabetic mother's tragic death in a snowstorm where she and Dessa Dean were trapped outside. During the storm, Dessa suffered frostbitten ears and watched her mother pass away. She is traumatized by this and hasn't left her house in over a month. She suffers from daymares which she is trying to hide from her father who works hard to make ends meet for he and Dessa Dean. When De
...more
Penny Peck
Leanin' Dog is a remarkable tween novel because there are only three characters - Dessa Dean, her father, and the dog. Taking place over a few days before Christmas, Dessa Dean and her father live in a backwoods area where he can hunt for their food. The mother has recently died, freezing to death in the woods and needing insulin, so I am not sure when the story takes place. It has a 1930's-1950's feel but could even be a contemporary story. Dessa Dean has both nightmares and "daymares" about fr ...more
Shawna
I really enjoyed this children's book! It's about a girl named Dessa Dean who lives in the mountains of Colorado with her dad. Dessa Dean's mom recently died when she got lost in the snow, and now Dessa Dean is afraid to leave the cabin. When a dog shows up at her door one day, she finally has a friend. However, the dog is afraid to come inside. My question throughout this book was, would they be able to help each other get over their fears? I especially liked this book because it takes place in ...more
Grady
After Dessa's mother died, she was lonely. More than anything in the world Dessa wanted a friend. A friend she could lean on, and talk to. But when she hears something at the door everything changes. Dessa learns to read and write with her fathers help. Along the way Dessa learns things she didn't know before and sees things she never thought she would see like a bear indie her house. I really liked this book it was really well written. I would recommend this book to someone who likes reading re ...more
Elena
I read this book, I think, in 6th grade and it has really stuck with me! I plan on reading it again soon because it was one of those first few books that really got me into reading. In 6th grade I had that common mentality that reading was nerdy or boring. After reading this book I decided to just be myself and I myself now love to read!
Jasmine Sailer
It is a heartwarming story about a girl who lost her mother. When she thinks it is all over and nothing can help her up, she meets a dog who needs somewhere to stay. The girl has an idea that could help her and the dog. I recommend this amazing book to anyone willing to read it. It is one of the best books I have ever read!
Christiane
Just over a month ago Dessa Dean and her mother were lost in a snow storm. By the time her father found them her mother had frozen to death. Dessa Dean suffers from frostbit ears, nightmares and is unable to leave the warmth and safety of the cabin. Her trapper father is gone most of the day, leaving her alone and lonely until one day a brown dog comes scratching at the door. The book is fairly slow moving and descriptive, with a lot of detail of Dessa Dean's life in the isolated cabin that may ...more
Jay
This turned out to be a really good story to read at Christmas time, so I guess I'm glad my reading of it was delayed. I started reading it aloud to my three kids in October, but then a book we'd had on reserve at the library came in and we had to finish that one in two weeks. So we switched read-aloud books (first time ever). In that time, two of my kids finished "The Leanin' Dog" on their own. The third said he didn't want to hear the rest. Once I finally believed him, I read it on my own. It ...more
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