Cover image for The green dog : a mostly true story
The green dog : a mostly true story
Staples, Suzanne Fisher.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003.
Physical Description:
119 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
During the summer before fifth grade, Suzanne, a daydreaming loner who likes to fish and walk through the woods, acquires a canine companion. Based on the author's childhood in northeastern Pennsylvania.
General Note:
"Frances Foster Books."
Reading Level:
960 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.3 4.0 73961.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 6.4 9 Quiz: 36407 Guided reading level: W.
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Lancaster Library X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The summer after fourth grade, a lonely girl wants just one thing: a dog. It's all she can think of. She tries everything to convince her parents to let her have one, but nothing works. She is sure that she will spend another whole summer alone ¿ dogless and friendless ¿ with no one to share her adventures in the woods and waterways of northeastern Pennsylvania. Just when things look bleakest, a dog appears on the side of the road and needs rescuing. He looks exactly like the dog she's been dreaming of. Together they spend long, golden days fishing, swimming, and exploring the woods. Jeff works his magic on everyone in the house, but it's soon evident that he has a nose for trouble, like digging up the neighbor's rhubarb patch and overturning a pail of green paint. Suzanne¿s father rapidly loses patience. "One more incident," he warns, "and that dog is going to the farm." This heartwarming story, taken from the author's childhood, will remind readers of all ages what it¿s like to wish for something so hard ¿ and to love something so completely ¿ it makes your heart ache.

Author Notes

Suzanne Fisher Staples is also the author of many acclaimed books for young readers, including Shiva's Fire and Dangerous Skies , an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. She lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-6. In this fictionalized memoir, Staples remembers a blissful summer before fifth grade, when the dog of her dreams miraculously appears at her family's door. I need a dog because I don't have any real friends, says young Suzanne, a loner who prefers solitary adventures in the woods to the company of other kids. When Jeff, a scruffy mutt the family spotted at the roadside, arrives at the Fishers' door, it seems to be fate. For the rest of the summer, Suzanne roams happily with Jeff, growing closer to her sister and neighborhood kids along the way. Unfortunately, Jeff's comic accidents and escapes prove too difficult to manage, and Suzanne's parents send Jeff to a local farm. The first-person narrative is filled with rich, poetic vocabulary and nostalgic details that belong more to an adult's memories than to a child's viewpoint. But Staples' beautiful words and images capture summer's delicious freedom, and readers will connect with daydreaming, independent Suzanne, who notices everything, fears growing up, and loves her pet with a pure intensity that her parents will never understand. --Gillian Engberg Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this tale based on the author's childhood memories, Staples (Shiva's Fire; Dangerous Skies) meandering narrative effectively evokes the long, lazy days of summer on a lake in northeastern Pennsylvania. Narrator Suzanne, an imaginative child, prefers the company of animals to most people ("I don't need Billy McClosky chattering on the dock and scaring the fish away, not to mention interrupting my exotic daydream adventures"). Anyone who has always wanted a dog will identify with Suzanne, whose dream comes true during the summer after her fourth-grade year. The dog, which Suzanne's father refuses to rescue from the highway, later appears in their yard, a good six miles away. Amazed by the coincidence (as readers may be, too), the narrator readily adopts the mutt-although her father never actually says "yes, you can keep him." Suzanne's dream-come-true becomes a bit nightmarish as her pet, dubbed "Jeff," repeatedly gets into mischief (uprooting a neighbor's rhubarb patch-which yields prize-winning pies-plus impregnating a valuable hunting dog and peeing in all the wrong places). Like Suzanne, readers will wait with baited breath to see which disaster will be the last straw, propelling her father to carry out his threat to "send Jeff to the farm." The author creates a timeless atmosphere by remaining focused on the narrator's growing pains and avoiding details that would date the tale. As the novel progresses, readers will detect subtle changes in Suzanne as Jeff draws her out of her loner's shell and forces her to deal with the here and now. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-In the beginning, Jeff is just an imaginary dog, 10-year-old Suzanne's loyal companion, the dog she has wanted all her life but can't have because of her brother's allergies. Then one day, a black-and-tan dog, the real Jeff, appears, wandering on the median strip of the highway near her home. Suzanne recognizes him immediately and despairs when her father refuses to stop the car and rescue him. Yet miracles do happen, and the animal survives, only to appear later on the family's doorstep. With a great deal of persuasion, Suzanne convinces her parents that this is the perfect dog, her dog, and she is allowed to keep him on a trial basis. What follows is a perfectly riotous summer with Jeff getting into laugh-aloud trouble at every turn. But summers, even the best of them, end, and this perfect relationship must come to a bittersweet ending as well. In this "mostly true" story, Staples has perfectly captured the feel of a Pennsylvania lakeside summer in the late 1950s. Her writing is rich and descriptive, yet clear and simple. Her characters are all familiar-the lonely, imaginative child, not quite ready to grow up and longing for a perfect friend; the whiny but helpful younger sister; the exasperated and yet sympathetic mother; the lovable and incorrigible dog-but Staples turns each one into a perfectly rounded individual, a person (or dog) readers could easily know. Like Henry and Mudge, the Blossoms and Mud, Opal and Winn-Dixie, Suzanne and Jeff are sure to become favorites with readers of all ages.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Girl Needs Dogp. 9
Dogless Daysp. 26
Dog in Dangerp. 41
A Small Miraclep. 54
The First Sign of Troublep. 62
Best-Dressed Dogp. 70
More Troublep. 79
Dog's Gonep. 88
Dog Visits Farmp. 97
Good Dogp. 108
Falling Dogp. 115
Back to Schoolp. 123
Tale's Endp. 132

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