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How to Steal a Dog
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How to Steal a Dog

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  5,710 ratings  ·  676 reviews
Half of me was thinking, Georgina, don’t do this. Stealing a dog is just plain wrong. The other half of me was thinking, Georgina, you’re in a bad fix and you got to do whatever it takes to get yourself out of it.

Georgina Hayes is desperate. Ever since her father left and they were evicted from their apartment, her family has been living in their car. With her mama jugglin...more
Hardcover, 170 pages
Published March 20th 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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Best Books for Reluctant Readers
60th out of 733 books — 1,438 voters
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Reluctant Readers 4th-5th Graders
1st out of 17 books — 7 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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A. Riley
Wow! This is a touching story that shined some light for me into the life of homelessness from a child's perpesctive. The main character, Georgina, deals with some tough times while living out of a car with her mother and younger brother. It is a real eye opener; reminding me not to take things for granted.

This is a must read for anyone who works with children, especially in a title I school setting. We may never know what our students are really going through outside of school.

2008-2009 Blueb...more
A Kearns library mother/daughter book club selection . . . read it in a day . . . a good, fun, enlightening read! Recommended for old and young alike!
This was a very good book, some excellent topics for discussion with my 4th grade emotional support students. It was a little difficult in the middle because it was very uncomfortable as the main character was making some very bad choices but I was pleased with where the story ended. This book had a very real portrayal of homelessness and poverty from the perspective of a child. The emotions were well described and the story was realistic. I enjoy using literature that explores social issues and...more
What a great story for fostering empathy! I applaud Emma's 4th-grade teacher for choosing this book for their latest lit circle selection.

Here are my favorite quotes from the story:

"Where do you live?" I said. ...
He opened his arms wide and said, "Out here. Outside."
Mookie nodded. "Yep."
"How come?"
"'Cause I don't have to paint the air or tar-paper the sky or mop the ground. All I got to do is breathe." (p. 111)

"Smart ain't got a thing to do with school," he said. "I never went past six...more
Cody Randles
How to steal a dog by Barbara O'Conner is a book in the perspective of a young girl named Georgina. Who's family is struggling. Georgina, her brother, and her mother all live in a car because there father left them. Georgina has an idea that if she steals a dog she will get a reward for it and get good money. Soon to find out this isn't the case.

Georgina Hayes and her family are in need of hope after her father left them. They have been living in the same car and wearing the same clothes. Georgi...more
This book goes against everything I believe in...Not sure why I got it to read...

These kids (& mom) are homeless...the main character, a girl, is a complete brat and at one point even blames her mom for being a bad mother since they are homeless (dad took the money & left...yet it was mom's fault)...

She decides to steal a dog in order to get reward $$ and is befriended by the woman whose dog she stole...I admit...I skimmed it after just went against my entire belief system...

Crystal Gutierrez
I though this book was pretty amazing. this book is realistic fiction...........the title also sounds pretty interesting.SO..this book is about this little family...the mom,the little brother and the big sister.this family is kind of poor and the girl named Georgina wanted to steal a dog....I wouldn't steal a dog,would you?so anyways yeah she wanted to steal a dog to be able to get some money by selling it.I wonder what will she do with the money that she gets by selling the dog.......probably f...more
Audience: Intermediate
Appeal: This book is definitely targeted toward the upper intermediate levels. It questions morals of little girl who has to face the tough decision of doing what is crucial to survival or what is right. It is a good story line and easy to follow. Definitely recommend!
State: Hawaii--NeNe Award
Georgina is mortified that her family lives in their car after her daddy up and left them. Eating lots of tunafish, bathing in gas stations, and sleeping in parking lots all over town has Georgina at her wits end. She hatches a plan to steal a dog even though she knows it's wrong. With help from her brother, Toby, the two succeed in stealing Willy. Now all they have to do is get the reward money and then they can finally move into an apartment where things will go back to normal. Easy, right?

Jared Burton
O'Connor, Barbara. How to Steal a Dog. New York, New York: Scholastic Inc., 2007.
This book is about a girl and her brother who live with their mother out of their car. They live in their car after being kicked out of their apartment for not being able to pay rent. The mom works two jobs and is trying to save up money in order to get a new place to stay in. Until then, Georgina comes up with a plan to steal a dog in order to collect the reward of 500 dollars which will allow her and her family t...more
Crystal Bandel
How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor, published 2007.

Realistic fiction.


Found via Kirkus Reviews, reviewer not identified.

When Georgina's father leaves, her mother can't afford their apartment, leaving the family evicted and living out of their car until her mother can earn enough money for a new apartment. Georgina and her brother try to appear normal at school, but the pressure builds and Georgina desperately wants a new apartment, so she creates a plan to steal a dog and trick the owne...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Georgina has a hard life. Her dad left her mom, little brother Toby, and her. She has to deal with living in a car, wearing dirty clothes, and getting ready for school at the nearest gas station. She wants a home. A REAL home, but when she asks her momma when, all Georgina gets is an angry "Soon! I'm tryin ya know!!!" So she has come up with a plan: to steal a dog. Then all she's gotta do is pretend like she's found the dog when the reward signs go up. So she decides to steal the dog from the bi...more
How to Steal a Dog opens with the best and most heartbreaking beginning sentence in any recent piece of children's literature: "The day I decided to steal a dog was the same day my best friend, Luanne Godfrey, found out I lived in a car." When I read that sentence, I felt like I was sucker-punched. Twice.

With a title like How to Steal a Dog, you might think this book was about the dog. You'd be wrong. It is about so much more. It is about relationships. It is about love. It is about suffering. I...more
How to Steal a Dog is about a young girl who is homeless and lives out of a car after her dead-beat dad leaves the family. She tries to keep up pretenses that her family is still intact and doing great, but her unkempt appearance from washing in public restrooms is causing suspicions. She hatches a plan to steal a beloved pet from a house where the mailbox name matches the name of the whole street - evidently a family of means. Each day, she teaches her little brother the on-going plan of kidnap...more
Georgina was a normal girl who had a family and went to girl scouts and dance until her dad left her mom, brother, and her with only a mayonnaise jar of wadded up 1 dollar bills and 2 rolls of quarters. Even though her mom had 2 jobs they still could not pay their rent on their apartment and they were kicked out. They were forced to move into their car. They washed their hair in gas stations and ate whatever they could afford. Georgina was tired of living in a car and found a way to earn money....more
My child was given this book to read over the summer for a school summer reading program. When she finished reading it, she asked me if I'd like to read it. The book was well written and the characters were quite likable. It's a rather sad book as it is about a homeless girl and her mother and little brother. I found myself feeling this little girl, Georgina's, pain even though I myself have never been in her situation... My heart just broke when her classmates at school laughed at her because o...more
Georgina's whole world has changed over night. Her father leaves her family, forcing them to move into their car, becoming homeless. Georgina hides this from everyone in school, even her best friend, although people have been figuring it out anyways. Georgina decides that stealing a dog would get the money they need to get a house again. Throughout the book, Georgina is faced with tough decisions of right and wrong, many seeming to be both. How to Steal a Dog is an excellent book to use as a fif...more
Good book, I would suggest to all readers. You get into deep sympathy with how homelessness is and its affects on people. This is about a girl who lives in a car, and to get money, she steals a dog. Don't let the cover throw you off, it is not a straight on list of instructions. There is much more of a story :)
When I was in middle school, I was scarred by a book in which a dog died tragically. The book, Takers and Returners by Carol Beach York, is a tense, thought-provoking read (and high interest, so I'd recommend it), but I still get a little nauseated when I think about it. As a result, I was really worried about this one. I had to read the ending before I finished the book just to make sure the dog survived. It did. It was never really in danger.

The premise here is that Georgina's dad has left her...more
Robert Gilbert
Wow! At first I thought I was not going to enjoy this book, because it hit too close to home. Having been homeless myself in my youth, and having dealt with it from several other angles, I could not help but take Georgina's plight a little personal. One of the memories that came back to me was from a few winters back, driving through the shopping center parking lots late at night during the worst cold-snap in years, looking for the van that one of my girls from church lived in with her family. I...more
Rebecca Sheffler
This is a great book and a very touching story. The language of the author is descriptive and really helps the reader get sunk into the story. This is a story about a young girl, Georgina, who experiences a tough life after her father leaves the family. Georgina, her mother, and her younger brother are left alone. They are evicted from their home and begin to live in a car. Their life becomes very tough. Georgina has a big heart and wants to help her mother get back on her feet. She sees a lost...more
Fantabulous 5th Graders
Helen C.
Book Review

“How to Steal a Dog”

Have you ever read about a girl who steals a dog to get a reward? I have. Her name is Georgina, and she has a very miserable life.

The book How to Steal a Dog, by Barbara O’Connor is about a girl named Georgina. She’s homeless, and wants to have a normal life just like her best friend Luanne Godfrey. Unfortunately, she has this bad idea of stealing a dog with her little brother, Toby. Will Georgina go to JAIL? Will she ever have a NORMAL life?

What I really...more
Jessica Guard
How to Steal a Dog takes place in Darby, North Carolina. Georgina and Toby's mom works at two jobs in attempts to save enough money to afford a place to live after being evicted from their apartment. Forced to live in their car, Georgina becomes flustered, angry, and miserable. When Georgina sees a "lost dog" sign with a $500 reward, it grants her the idea of stealing the right dog so they can earn a reward to help pay for a real house.

This book hits at home with me because I grew up in a tiny...more
I think it was the mood I was in while reading it, but I think the author missed the mark. It's about a girl who steals a dog to get reward money, and we are supposed to care about the girl's inner struggle of right and wrong while she deals with being homeless. I didn't really care about her at all, because I was so anxious that she didn't FEED THE DOG EVERY DAY. Come on. You have to feed a dog every day. I felt so sorry for the dog she had hidden, I didn't care about her own whining anymore.
Apr 08, 2014 Kerri rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: youth
Good read for 4-5 grade. A strong reminder of how blessed we are
Amazing book!

How to Steal a Dog is a must read book! I rated it 5 stars because it's so detailed and it teaches a GREAT lesson!
thank you Barbara O' Connor! :D
I liked this book because I like these kinds of books that spend a lot of time on one subject. like in this book the girl named Georgina when she is planing to steal the dog she writes down the steps on how to in a journal, and throughout the book she explains how she is going to do that certain step. Then while you are reading more on into the book she goes back to every step and looks over it again.
I thought that How to Steel a Dog, by Barbara O'Connor was an amazing book. In the book, my favorite character is Georgina Hayes. She is my favorite character because, I am kind of like her, I know people like her, and I like her personality. I really enjoyed this book because I like the characters, and I like most of the characters personality's. I thought that this book was kind of sad because of the way they treated the dog, Willy.
Stevie D
I just finished how to steal a dog by Barbara O' Connor. This book is about a girl who's family has to sleep in the car and one day she saw this person with a
dog and on the sign it said reward $500 so she and her brother Toby decided to steal a dog. My favorite part of the book is when she steals the dog.
I like this book because it reminds my dog I have and the first time I got him. I love this book so much.
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Barbara O'Connor's awards include the Parents Choice Gold and Silver Award, American Library Association Notable Books, IRA Notable Books for a Global Society, School Library Journal Best Books, and Kirkus Best Books. Her books have been nominated for children's choice awards in 38 states and voted as a state favorite by children in South Carolina, Indiana, Kansas, and South Dakota.

Barbara was bor...more
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