Why would First Church Library have what sounds like an instructional book about stealing dogs in its Young Readers section? No, we’re not trying to encourage bad behavior. “How to Steal a Dog” by Barbara O’Connor is a fictional story about a family that has fallen on hard times and has been forced to seek shelter in their car. The main character, Geraldine Hayes, tries to pretend to her friends at school that she is living a normal life just like them and embarks on a misguided attempt to remedy her family’s circumstances.
Our children may have noticed homeless individuals with their shopping carts or big backpacks around Portland but may not always be aware of the homeless families with kids their ages who live among us. Homeless kids may even be among their classmates at school, and some homeless families live here at the Goosehollow Shelter while they try to secure a permanent place to live. “How to Steal a Dog” might help young readers understand how difficult it is for a kid to live in those circumstances.
This book has a happy ending. Rest assured that in the end, Geraldine says that it is never a good thing to steal a dog even if you are doing it with the best of intentions to try to help your family financially.