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2015 Nominee
Voted 13 out of 20

Spotted Dog Last Seen

By Jessica Scott Kerrin. Published in 2013 by Groundwood

While tracking clues from a secret code penciled in the margins of mystery novels at a public library, Derek Knowles-Collier discovers a time capsule, an unpublished author and a gravestone that may finally put his haunting past to rest.

At Queensview Elementary, grade-six students are required to complete a community service unit as part of their school curriculum. Derek Knowles-Collier was sick when groups were assigned, so he is stuck with what’s leftover: landscape and repair duty at the local cemetery.

Derek is not happy about his assignment. When he was very young, his friend Dennis was killed by a car after running into the road to catch a ball. Ever since, Derek has had recurring nightmares, and he is afraid that spending time in a cemetery will make it even harder for him to sleep through the night.

It’s a relief, therefore, when his group’s lessons on all aspects of cemetery care are so interesting and strange that Derek just doesn’t have time to dwell on his experience with death. And when it rains, the lessons take place in the nearby public library, which takes him out of the cemetery altogether, at least for an afternoon.

One day, a book arrives at the library, an anonymous donation that happens every year. On reading the book, Derek and his group mates find a secret code written on an inside margin. One code leads to the next, with the last code leading the students to a time capsule.

Through a series of discoveries and deductions, Derek and his friends discover who has been sending books to the library every year. They also discover the truth behind Dennis’s long-ago death, which means that Derek is finally able to put his terrifying memories (and his nightmares) to rest.

INCLUDES A SECRET CODE FOR READERS TO DECIPHER!

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8 thoughts on “Spotted Dog Last Seen

  1. Agnes Davidson School

    I really like this book and how they were trying to figure out the mystery. I thought that it was sad that his friend died and that he was having nightmares. The only parts that I did not like about it was that a lot of parts of the book was about them walking around and cleaning the cemetery. But other than that it was really interesting and a good book.

    Reply
  2. Hillhurst Community School

    Book Review – The Spotted Dog Last Seen – Jessica Scott Kerrin

    The Spotted Dog Last Seen talks about a boy named Derek who has to spend time at the old cemetery for community service. Except for the prologue, the beginning seems pretty normal for a grade 6 boy’s life. However, during the middle he and his friends start to find secret codes in some of the novels from the public library, and they follow the clues, to find a time capsule that relates and brings back memories of Derek’s past. Along the way, they meet people that might help solve a mystery, find an old locker, and come across a book about a spotted dog.
    I think that this book is meets it’s purpose of being a gripping mystery novel, that grabs the readers and makes them want to read to the end. The author does this by putting the answer/solution near the end of the book, so the reader doesn’t get bored because nothing interesting is going on. This book is a great example of a mystery book that will really get you thinking. I think all of the details add to the storyline, and that with every chapter, something new seems to happen, making the book so much better. In, my opinion the book is a little confusing at times, because there is always a change of events, but, overall it was a good book for me to read.
    I would recommend this book to people around grade 4-6 because I think the reading level is appropriate for this age group, and I think it will be more interesting for the readers this way. I probably wouldn’t recommend this book to younger readers or someone at a lower reading level because the book can get a little confusing at times, and there are a lot of details in the book so you kind of have to go back and look again to fully understand everything that is happening, which doesn’t make this book the best for young readers.

    Reply
  3. Chauvin Municipal Library

    This book was very interesting as it gave you an idea of how to maintain the cemetery gravestones. Also, told you some neat tricks on how to distinguish faded numbers from letters. The mystery within the story definitely kept you interested until the end. The only catch I found was the words the kids had to find in their mystery books to find their next clue. Did you notice there is also words you have to find written in the front of the book. Now I will have to read the book again and see if there is a clue hiding in this story.

    Reply
  4. Hillhurst Elementary School

    Spotted Dog Last Seen Summary

    At Queensveiw Elementary, students are required to complete community service for extra marks. Derek Collier was sick when the groups were assigned so he was stuck with the last job available, repair duty at the local cemetery. Derek was extremely unhappy with the job given to him. After dealing with the death of his friend Dennis due to a car accident, he experienced reoccurring nightmares of the terrifying experience. These nightmares made it hard to sleep through the night.

    But one afternoon where Derek and his friends are at the library next to the cemetery, they find a strange book with an anonymous donation. While reading the book Derek finds a mysterious code in one of the margins, which lead the trio to a time capsule in their school.

    After pouring over books and investigating into the mystery, Derek finds the solution, but will it put Derek’s terrifying nightmares and memories to rest?

    The main topic of this book is not to hide from your past. It may be scary and terrifying, but hiding from something your afraid won’t help anything at all.

    If Derek has completely forgotten and blocked out his memory of Dennis, he may not have found out that the author of the unpublished book he found had talked about the death of his friend.

    He may not have found out that creelman (cemetery worker) was related to Dennis. All of these things may not have happened! But these events make book so good that if the book didn’t have them it would have no point.

    I think that people should read this book because it shows that life has its ups and its downs, but you always have something to be proud of. And that’s what makes a good book.
    -Maggie

    Reply
  5. Hillhurst Elementary School

    Spotted Dog Last Seen Summary
    By Maggie C.

    At Queensveiw Elementary, students are required to complete community service for extra marks. Derek Collier was sick when the groups were assigned so he was stuck with the last job available, repair duty at the local cemetery. Derek was extremely unhappy with the job given to him. After dealing with the death of his friend Dennis due to a car accident, he experienced reoccurring nightmares of the terrifying experience. These nightmares made it hard to sleep through the night.

    But one afternoon where Derek and his friends are at the library next to the cemetery, they find a strange book with an anonymous donation. While reading the book Derek finds a mysterious code in one of the margins, which lead the trio to a time capsule in their school.

    After pouring over books and investigating into the mystery, Derek finds the solution, but will it put Derek’s terrifying nightmares and memories to rest?

    The main topic of this book is not to hide from your past. It may be scary and terrifying, but hiding from something your afraid won’t help anything at all.

    If Derek has completely forgotten and blocked out his memory of Dennis, he may not have found out that the author of the unpublished book he found had talked about the death of his friend.

    He may not have found out that creelman (cemetery worker) was related to Dennis. All of these things may not have happened! But these events make book so good that if the book didn’t have them it would have no point.

    I think that people should read this book because it shows that life has its ups and its downs, but you always have something to be proud of. And that’s what makes a good book.

    Reply
  6. Hillhurst School

    Spotted Dog Last Seen Summary
    By Maggie C.

    At Queensveiw Elementary, students are required to complete community service for extra marks. Derek Collier was sick when the groups were assigned so he was stuck with the last job available, repair duty at the local cemetery. Derek was extremely unhappy with the job given to him. After dealing with the death of his friend Dennis due to a car accident, he experienced reoccurring nightmares of the terrifying experience. These nightmares made it hard to sleep through the night.

    But one afternoon where Derek and his friends are at the library next to the cemetery, they find a strange book with an anonymous donation. While reading the book Derek finds a mysterious code in one of the margins, which lead the trio to a time capsule in their school.

    After pouring over books and investigating into the mystery, Derek finds the solution, but will it put Derek’s terrifying nightmares and memories to rest?

    The main topic of this book is not to hide from your past. It may be scary and terrifying, but hiding from something your afraid won’t help anything at all.

    If Derek has completely forgotten and blocked out his memory of Dennis, he may not have found out that the author of the unpublished book he found had talked about the death of his friend.

    He may not have found out that creelman (cemetery worker) was related to Dennis. All of these things may not have happened! But these events make book so good that if the book didn’t have them it would have no point.

    I think that people should read this book because it shows that life has its ups and its downs, but you always have something to be proud of. And that’s what makes a good book.

    Reply
  7. Hillhurst Elementary School

    Spotted Dog Last Seen Summary

    At Queensveiw Elementary, students are required to complete community service for extra marks. Derek Collier was sick when the groups were assigned so he was stuck with the last job available, repair duty at the local cemetery. Derek was extremely unhappy with the job given to him. After dealing with the death of his friend Dennis due to a car accident, he experienced reoccurring nightmares of the terrifying experience. These nightmares made it hard to sleep through the night.

    But one afternoon where Derek and his friends are at the library next to the cemetery, they find a strange book with an anonymous donation. While reading the book Derek finds a mysterious code in one of the margins, which lead the trio to a time capsule in their school.

    After pouring over books and investigating into the mystery, Derek finds the solution, but will it put Derek’s terrifying nightmares and memories to rest?

    The main topic of this book is not to hide from your past. It may be scary and terrifying, but hiding from something your afraid won’t help anything at all.

    If Derek has completely forgotten and blocked out his memory of Dennis, he may not have found out that the author of the unpublished book he found had talked about the death of his friend.

    He may not have found out that creelman (cemetery worker) was related to Dennis. All of these things may not have happened! But these events make book so good that if the book didn’t have them it would have no point.

    I think that people should read this book because it shows that life has its ups and its downs, but you always have something to be proud of. And that’s what makes a good book.
    -Maggie

    Reply
  8. Hillhurst

    R.M.B.A Book Review, The Spotted Dog Last Seen By Jessica Scott Kerrin

    Derek, a sixth grader at Queensview Elementary, has been assigned the unwanted volunteer position at Twillingate Cemetery in order to complete his school’s community service requirement. Having suffered a childhood shock, Derek is not fond of cemeteries. When he learns his fellow volunteers will be Pascal and Merrilee, and his supervisor, Mr. Creelman, is surly, stiff, and serious, Derek is unsure how he will survive his Wednesday afternoons of volunteering. However, when Merrilee stumbles across a secret code hidden in one of the cemetery’s library books, the weekly volunteer sessions start to get more interesting. As they begin their quest, Derek, Pascal, and Merrilee learn to navigate their unusual friendship, and Derek is forced to face a piece of his past that has remained hidden for a long time.
    My opinion, for this book, is that The Spotted Dog Last Seen may focus on a cemetery, headstones, and the dead, but it’s really a story about buried secrets and making things right. And with a mixed crew of characters led by our main character, Derek (whose passion is collecting sayings to put on t-shirts e.g., Change is good. You go first.) And the cotton-ball eye-browed Mr. Creelman, The Spotted Dog Last Seen takes the story from grave (pun intended) to middle-grade perfection.

    Conclusion is that I would recommend this book to mysterious people, like Merrilee. Or if you are shy and don’t like cemeteries, like Derek, maybe you would find that giving it a try, might make a difference in your life. Pascal? I don’t know people who are dim-witted would read this book, but maybe they can give it a try. I think Derek is still figuring out his family tree. Mr. Creelman as Dennis’s grandfather? Derek’s not quite sure about that. I hoped you liked my book report.

    ~Elyssia

    Reply

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