“Sometimes having company is not all it’s cracked up to be.” Fourteen-year-old Finn is a loner, living with his dad and his amazing dog, Dylan. This summer he’s hoping for a job where he doesn’t have to talk to anyone except his pal Matthew. Then Johanna moves in next door. She’s 10 years older, cool, funny, and she treats Finn as an equal. Dylan loves her, too. Johanna’s dealing with breast cancer, and Matthew and Finn learn to care for her, emotionally and physically. When she hires Finn to create a garden, his gardening ideas backfire comically. But Johanna and the garden help Finn discover his talents for connecting with people.
Although he was never a dedicated student, Paulsen developed a passion for reading at an early age. After a librarian gave him a book to read--along with his own library card--he was hooked. He began spending hours alone in the basement of his apartment building, reading one book after another.
Running away from home at the age of 14 and traveling with a carnival, Paulsen acquired a taste for adventure. A youthful summer of rigorous chores on a farm; jobs as an engineer, construction worker, ranch hand, truck driver, and sailor; and two rounds of the 1,180-mile Alaskan dog sled race, the Iditarod; have provided ample material from which he creates his stories.
Paulsen and his wife, Ruth Wright Paulsen, an artist who has illustrated several of his books, divide their time between a home in New Mexico and a boat in the Pacific.
. . . my only plans for the next three months involved reading as many books as I could . . . and avoiding people.
I planned, in fact, to speak to fewer than a dozen people over the entire summer.
Plans change . . . a lesson 14-year-old Finn is about to discover. His entire summer vacation is co-opted when his new next door neighbor, who' s fighting breast cancer, asks him to create a garden for her in his own backyard. Soon Finn's days are spent digging in mud, and battling pests. And, suddenly, he's a social butterfly, conversing with total strangers on a daily basis.
Though not much of a dog story, this was a winning tale of friendship, sacrifice, and self-discovery. It's always nice to run across a young adult book that revolves around real people dealing with real situations.
"Books make me feel safe. Books make me feel normal."
I had a wry smile when I finished reading this book. Strangely, the story has got nothing to do with a dog; hence the cover and the title is almost misleading. I'm saying 'almost' because guess what? There's a dog and a few notes involved but they do not significantly contribute any meaning to the story. The dog is completely sidelined, which is why I'm disappointed, I've been clickbaited, I guess?!
This, surprisingly, is YA book and I don't usually read this genre, because over the years I've found myself drifting away from it, I find teenagers kinda stupid.
But, to my surprise, I didn't hate this book, in fact I enjoyed reading it. It's basically a story about Finn, a 14-year-old teenager, who avoids human contact as much as he could and prefers spending his time reading books if he's not studying. He has a pet dog, Dylan...who keeps on bringing him notes, all drenched in his saliva, lol. Finn is unaware of the source or the person who sends him these notes but each one of them secretly conveys a message to him.
It's a short story which covers Finn's summer vacation, when his plan to 'avoid people' is wrecked and he along with his best friend Matthew and his neighbor, Johanna ( a breast cancer patient ) joins along on a completely different quest.
PS: Never judge the book by it's cover or even it's title!
As a middle school librarian, I don't have to "sell" Paulsen, so I just had not taken the time to read this book before now. However, this is not the typical outdoor adventure story so often associated with Paulsen. Rather, the main character, Finn, is a socially-awkward 14 yo boy who, along with his one close friend, gets involved in the life of a girl in her twenties with breat cancer who moves in next door. I loved this book! It has a little humor, a little teen awkwardness, a little serious, a little family-- just the right amoutn of eveything. I particularly like:
1. Finn's voice (very authentic)- "It's not that I don't like people, but they make me uncomfortable. I feel like an alien dropped onto a strange planet and that I always have to be on the lookout for clues on how to act and what to say. It's exhausting to always feel like you don't belong anywhere and then worry that you're going to say the wrong thing all the time."
2. Johanna- A a character who appreciates what we should all appreciate about life-- everything. Her outlook provides a brief insight into breast cancer, appreciation, survival, caring. Not too overwhelming- just enough.
Great book for boys or girls. I'll be "selling" this one come Monday!
I really enjoyed this book. My favorite character was probably Johanna. She is a very strong character who can get through very hard things. This book is about a kid named Finn, he planned on doing nothing but reading on his summer. Johanna came in and they had the nest summer he could imagine.
Most of Gary Paulsen's best work came in the 1980s and '90s, but he had some excellent novels in the '70s and in the first two decades of the twenty-first century. First published in 2009, close to twenty years after Mr. Paulsen's last Newbery Honor, Notes from the Dog is a return to the author's gritty, plainspoken stories that remind us of the wondrous fragility of our lives, and the serendipitous threads that can grow to connect us to people who care. Fourteen-year-old Finn Duffy has no major plans the summer before he and his friend Matthew enter high school. He wants to mellow out and speak to as few people as possible, spending most of the summer with his border collie, Dylan. Finn's mother left years ago and his father isn't much of a talker, so finding quiet time shouldn't be a problem. That is, until Johanna Jackson moves in next-door.
Matthew is staying with the Duffys while his own parents finalize their divorce, and he and Finn notice the bald young woman's arrival. Despite Finn's tentative vow of silence for the summer, he and Matthew end up conversing with the twenty-four-year old and learn she has breast cancer. Johanna is just house-sitting for the neighbors while they spend summer in Europe, but she won't let that stop her from making yard improvements during the time she's here. Matthew's internship at a construction site takes up his days, but Johanna recruits Finn to create a garden in his yard: vegetables, bushes, and flowers to give Johanna something colorful to admire on her roughest chemotherapy days. Starting the garden consumes almost every hour of his days, and even then he hardly makes any headway, but never does Finn doubt that Johanna is worth the effort. She is a fount of the encouragement he needs to speak to others without trepidation, perhaps even to Karla Tracey, the girl he views from afar as perfect. Johanna opens doors Finn assumed would always be closed to him.
That summer is a collage of vivid moments. Johanna hopes to compete in a particular cancer charity triathlon while she still has the stamina, but needs a lot of donation money if she's to do so. That's where Finn and Matthew come in, and Finn surprises everyone by speaking boldly in soliciting cash contributions. He's not going to let Johanna miss the triathlon if she's well enough to participate. Her health varies from day to day, but is gradually trending down. Fainting spells and vomiting are more than Finn and Matthew signed on for when they made her acquaintance, but neither boy has regrets. Finn declines most of his father's offers to help clean up after Johanna; he wants to go above and beyond for her. As summer dwindles, Finn has socialized way more than he planned to, but the circle of people he cares about and who care for him is increasing, and Johanna is the reason why. Even after she's gone, her effect in his life will never fade away.
It's rare to meet someone who profoundly impacts your future in a positive way. Later you might wonder what made them gravitate to you, seeing potential maybe even you didn't know you had. These special moments in life needn't be understood perfectly, just celebrated. What are we without our Johannas, people who recognize what we're capable of becoming and seem certain we'll get there; and what are we without our Finns, who listen deeply and without judgment, take care of us when we need them to, and labor tirelessly to beautify our lives in ways small and large? Notes from the Dog demonstrates that the off-key harmony of reality is better than any romanticized version our minds could conjure before experiencing the pungency of real life ourselves. Who can fathom the miracle of existence?
Notes from the Dog isn't among my all-time Gary Paulsen favorites, but it's one of the better offerings from late in his career. Certain story elements feel contrived, but that's a minor problem compared to the book's strong emotional energy. It will have you reminiscing about people in your own life who have been wind in your sails to explore the world's sparkling seas beneath a forever sky. I rate Notes from the Dog two and a half stars, but definitely round up to three; if you enjoy short novels that pack a poignant punch, this is one for you.
Dari judulnya saya pikir buku ini bakal berisi cerita 'ajaib' tentang anjing yang bisa nulis dan memberikan catatan kepada majikannya. Dan memang awalnya kesan itu yang saya dapat. Tapi ternyata? Hehe.. no spoiler :p
Buku ini bercerita tentang seorang penderita kanker yang datang untuk menempati sebuah rumah yang ditinggal penghuninya yang pergi keluar negeri selama musim panas. Istilahnya house-sitting. Jadi rumah itu dia tempati selama yang punya rumah pergi. Ide bagus juga ya? Secara rumah kalo kosong ditinggal penghuninya kan lama-lama malah jadi rusak.
Anyway, Johanna, nama gadis ini, menderita kanker dan sedang menjalani terapi kemo yang mengakibatkan rambutnya rontok. Dengan kepribadiannya yang terbuka dan menyenangkan, Johanna berhasil menjadi teman Finn, remaja tanggung yang tinggal persis di depan rumahnya dan hanya berteman dengan anjingnya. Finn anak yang tergolong kuper. Dan dia telah bersumpah selama liburan summer ini dia tidak akan banyak bicara dengan orang dan hanya akan menghabiskan waktu untuk membaca.
Tapi pertemuannya dengan Johanna merubah semuanya. Bersama Matthew, temannya yang menginap selama liburan summer, mereka malah terjun untuk menggalang dana buat donasi para penderita kanker. Bahkan mereka menggantikan Johanna yang tadinya akan mengikuti triathlon. Matthew renang dan lari, Finn bersepeda.
Diselingi dengan percakapan yang kocak ala remaja dan alur cerita yang asik, buku ini menggambarkan bagaimana seorang penderita kanker berhasil menyatukan sebuah keluarga, mengembalikan kepercayaan diri seorang remaja tanggung yang memang sedang krisis identitas, dan mengajarkan arti kasih sayang yang sesungguhnya.
Jadi, notes itu beneran dari anjingnya? Hehe.. baca ajaaahh...!
In typical Gary Paulsen fashion, this book turns a real-life experience into a lesson learning adventure. Whether you're 40 or 14, you will most certainly glean a message of hope, growth, or enlightening as Paulsen yet again creates characters worth rooting for in all world ruled by a villain known to many... cancer.
It's been ages since I've read a book that made me laugh out loud, frequently. It felt good, and I'm looking forward to getting to read another like it. But this isn't just a funny book. There's a lot more going on here.
Finn is a socially awkward loner, but that's not really the focus of the story. The focus is on Finn's new neighbor, Johanna. Johanna is 24, outgoing, lively, and she quickly befriends Finn and takes him under her wing. She also has breast cancer. (Let me just point out that this is the first book about cancer that I've read that has a 20-something survivor, instead of a child (leukemia), teen (everything Lurlene McDaniel has ever written), or older adult.) We're never given the exact details of her diagnosis, and much is left to the reader's imagination even in the epilogue. The important thing is what Johanna has decided to do with this summer.
There's her Finn project, of course, which means getting him out of the house and interacting with people. Her first strategy is to hire him to garden his own back yard. Surprisingly, he takes to it, sort of. His enthusiasm doesn't match his results. Her other major project is participating in a breast cancer triathalon, with the goal of raising $10,000. This, too, gets Finn out of his comfort zone when he starts helping her meet her goal.
Notes from the Dog can be incredibly funny at times, but there's also a deeper emotional core. Paulsen doesn't shy away from the emotions and scenes that are more difficult to convey, like Johanna's reaction to chemo. He had me veering from laughing to wanting to cry to smiling at it all, and I loved that about this book. Life is not a constant downer, even with cancer. Still, the occassional emotionally heavy moment will stun readers drawn in by the bright cover and initially fun narration.
14 year old Finn plans to have a quiet summer. But when he meets Johanna, a 20 year old graduate who moves in next door, things change. Johanna is currently undergoing chemotherapy, and Finn always tries to cheer her up. When Johanna decides to hire Finn to plant a garden, Finn immediately takes the offer. Johanna decides to run in the triathlon and she needs to raise money. Finn and his friend Matthew go and stop by construction sites and nursery homes to find money for Johanna. Finn then discovers his talent of communicating with people who he has never met.
When I read this book I wanted to continue reading and not put it down. When I heard about matthew, a strong young handsome boy. I immediately made a connection. I would recommend this book to people who are in the eighth grade, and anyone who likes Gary Paulsen. For anyone who likes this book I would reccomend the book “How to Steal a dog” by Barbara O’Connor.
Most definitely I'm not the target age group for this book. I found it when I was on a shopping spree at a local bookstore and yep, I liked the cover and the first line of the book. I had no idea it was a mid-school-targeted book. If I had started it earlier in the day it would have been a one-sitting read. But it deals with issues like family, shyness, and indeed cancer, with compassion and a bit of bittersweetness - plus it has a lovable dog. I didn't fall into the book as I'm oft to do with books aimed at teenagers and/or adults, but I probably would have if I was 12 years old. I'm neither a teacher nor a parent, and have no expertise on this; I can only review it from where I come. A pleasant read.
I picked up my daughter from school last month, and as she got into the car, I noticed her eyes were red. I asked her what happened and if she was alright, and then she exclaimed, " Mom! You HAVE to read ' Notes From The Dog ', it is now on my top five favorite books!" I really didn't want to, as I had a lot of books on my "to read" list; Then I started browsing her copy and got sucked in.... This is a must read for you and your kids. If you have boys, I highly recommend it, as it is written in a early-teen boy's narrative. This book has nothing to fear as far as content or subject matter, even in my "liberal" opinion. No worries here. This is a winner, folks! I give it a 5.
Note from the Dog is a very good book that makes you actually see your true emotions. The book also makes you visualizes the story. I liked the book because it makes me feel like I can do anything. Finn a boy who is not very popular wanted to just sit at home and bearly talk to anyone but then a girl named Johanna a girl with cancer comes and house sits for Finn neighbor. When she meets Finn and Mathew ( Finns best friend) she sees something in them and has them sigh their names in her journal because it was the best thing that she did today. I think she writes Finn a couple secret notes that only he knows about.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Notes From The Dog is a book about Finn, Johanna and Matthew.During the summer someone comes and house sits Finns neighbors. Her name is Johanna and she has cancer. She loves gardening. Matthew is Finns best friend who helps him through a lot. I really liked the main characters. They had good personalities. I agreed with their choices. It had action and i guess i could say it was emotional at times. I honestly didn't like the ending. I have many questions and i am confused. It ended very suddenly. If you like to read fast paced books you would like this book. It has just enough details and action to make it an interesting book.
Theis is a great book. I give it four stars. It is a book about a young man who never really had much friends until one day. This book is a great book also Beacause it is sort of a love story in a way. But one thing I wish if if the book was a little longer at the end and had a little bit more detail.
This book was great! I think it was really well done with the sign of passion and love. The way it flowed made it a fast and easy read. Also it was great to see Finn change throughout the book as he learned more and more about Johanna and the outside world. This book definitely deserves my 5 star.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I liked the book because the realistic friendship l liked that cancer didn't slow Johanna down and I liked that Fin got the chance to step out of his comfort zone and talk to people I think it made him a better person
I liked this book because it was touching how the first day they saw Johannah she had a book and she asked them to sign it because it was a book of things that made her day and how Finn did the garden for Johannah and that they ran the race for her in the end. I just liked the overall story line.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I thought this was going to be about a boy and his dog hanging out for the summer . Maybe the dog would lead to some cute/funny shenanigans. The cover also made it seem like it would be so but can't judge a book by it's cover. The book went a whole another way but I honestly was not upset by this... it started off kinda cheesy in those classic 70 or 80 films where there is some corky unconventional girl that gets the shy guy to come out of his shell. Well the way the story began unfolding I soon found myself melting to the heart felt story. In fact I found myself laughing or shaking my head with some the main characters actions. The gardening moment of putting way too much fertilizer had me laughing. There was lot of bitter sweet moments and at the end it made me want to appreciate the time spent with others.
Even though there’s a big dog on the cover of this book, it’s not really about the dog. This is Finn’s story, and Matthew’s story, and Johanna’s story (Dylan, the dog has a small part). Finn and Matthew are 14 the summer Johanna (in her 20s) moves in next door (she’s house-sitting and going to grad school for library science and fighting breast cancer and training for a triathlon). Matthew is living with Finn and his father until his folks get their divorce all straightened out, and everyone seems to be happy with this arrangement. The boys meet Johanna and immediately take to her – even though she’s completely bald at the time. Matthew tells her she has an attractive skull. Finn is kind of shy and fully intends to spend the summer sequestered in his room (his goal is not to talk to more than 12 people over summer break) until Johanna hires him to create a garden – in his own yard – and gets him started researching, planning, and, eventually, planting. Finn is not a very good gardener and he makes many hilarious mistakes over the course of the summer. But the project is good for him, and the friendship he and Matthew have with Johanna is good for all of them. As the summer progresses, Finn finds himself reaching out to and connecting with people – he and Matthew help Johanna raise money to fight breast cancer, Finn finds a girl he can actually talk to, and the boys end up competing in the triathlon when Johanna’s cancer treatments make her too ill to participate. It’s a life-changing time for all of them.
This story will make you laugh out loud – especially at Finn’s exploits – but it will also twist your heart – especially at the end when Finn realizes that Johanna’s cancer is for real, and it may take the wonderful person he has come to know. What is it about Johanna? She shows up and the world just sort of bends to accommodate her – she shakes people up, helps them forge new paths for themselves, changes them forever. She’s a powerful catalyst, despite her illness. I loved her strength and her wisdom (plus she’s a librarian-in-training – thanks, Gary Paulsen). This is a wonderful read.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
4.5 - I picked this up on a whim while strolling in the library the other day. I was looking through the "new" YA books and this caught my eye. I had no idea what the title was about because other than a few non-descriptive blurbs (which I hardly ever take at face value anyway) there was nothing to tell me anything about the story. But I took it out anyway. I guess I liked the cover. I ended up being surprised by the book. It's a very fast read. Very fast. Like, a one sitting type deal. The main topic is breast cancer and how a new neighbor, Johanna, comes in and changes the lives of the main character, Finn, his friend Matthew, as well as numerous others. Johanna has breast cancer and is undergoing chemo during the story. On the surface this wouldn't sound like something the average young person would want to read right? Well, I'm almost positive that most of the young people who start to read this will finish it. They'll get pulled in. Gary Paulsen has a very talented voice and it speaks to you. I think this may be geared towards boys maybe in the 12-16 age range but I wouldn't limit it. I'm a 32 year old female and I loved it. Reluctant readers may just find a love of reading through this story. I'd recommend immediately to any teacher, librarian, parent of a pre-teen, etc. along with people like myself who just love a good story. I'm definitely going to check out more by the author.
Fourteen-year-old Finn Duffy has plans for this summer: reading books, hanging with his friend Matthew, and talking to as few people as possible. Those plans go out the window when Johanna moves in next door. Johanna, a twenty-something woman, is housesitting for the summer, and also has breast cancer; she hires Finn to plant a garden in his yard and teaches him some lessons about life in the process.
This is what I like to call a “happy cancer book”, that is, it has cancer in it, but it deals with the cancer with humor and inspirational life messages. For sure, there are some genuinely touching and amusing moments in this boos, although I felt like the overall product fell a little flat.
For starters, the plot was so minimal that it felt very sluggish, even though the novel was only 144 pages. There’s just not a lot of driving action or conflict to push things forward.
Johanna was a great character, and I would have enjoyed getting to know her better. As it is, she is the most-developed character, leaving the narrator a little one-dimensional. The supporting characters are mostly fairly bland, but likable enough.
This was definitely a case of a book being neither good nor bad, but just solidly mediocre.
It's hard to find a 12 year old who has not read Hatchet. However, I find that those same kids have not heard of the books I especially enjoyed from Gary Paulsen, like Harris and Me and Cookcamp and now I can add this title. The story is about a boy who wants nothing to do with other people, because he is a miserable failure at relationships of almost any kind. He meets a woman who has cancer, and things begin to change. She is one of those characters we all wish were real people. She sees something in the boy, draws him out, and leaves him a better person for having known her. It sounds silly and trite, but wasn't. Then, there is the dog. He is the ultimate in judging character and giving comfort, of course. She sends notes to the boy through the dog. He knows the notes are from her. They don't discuss the notes. Yet, they bolster the boy's confidence and sense of himself. A quick read for an adolescent. A boy or girl would be able to appreciate the story.
Finn is 14 and feels like a total oddball. He lives with his dad, his dog Dylan, and his best friend Matthew, who's moved in while his parents are busy getting divorced. Finn hates talking to people, because he always feels like he's saying the wrong things, so he's hoping for a summer job where he doesn't have to talk to ANYONE. Johanna, a graduate student who talks to Finn as an equal, arrives next door to house-sit for the neighbors for the summer, and she hires him to create a garden for her. Finn has no experience doing this, and Paulsen's trademark humor shows up in Finn's mistakes! Johanna is battling breast cancer, and when she becomes ill after chemo, Finn and Matthew help to take care of her, and their summer revolves around helping her to raise money for her triathlon, the garden, and getting Finn a date with his dream girl. Short, funny, and thoughtful... 7th grade and up.
I am a big fan of Gary Paulsen and his wonderful books. They all have a similar theme: survival and wilderness. So I was surprised when I found out that Notes from the Dog had nothing to do with any of those. This book was so heartwarming, touching, sad, beautiful, creative, memorable, and happy all at the same time that it's hard to believe it was all packed into one book. Paulsen's wonderful storytelling mixes in with the most popular genre of books now: reality. From an unpopular boy's perspective, the world is a loud, different place where everything is subjective to how you look, your weight, and your clothes. That is how many of us see the world, as a problem not yet resolved. But Paulsen solves this problem with the story of three friends, a dog, a girlfriend, and family. A must-read for all ages: easy to read (a short story) but just as detailed and fantastic as any Harry Potter or three-hundred-page book.