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How to Look for a Lost Dog

Chapter 1
Who I Am — A Girl Named Rose (Rows)

I am Rose Howard and my first name has a homonym. To be accurate, it has a homophone, which is a word that’s pronounced the same as another word but spelled differently. My homophone name is Rows.
Most people say homonym when they mean homophone. My teacher, Mrs Kushel, says this is a common mistake.
“What’s the difference between making a mistake and breaking a rule?” I want to know.
“Making a mistake is accidental. Breaking a rule is deliberate.”
“But if—” I start to say.
Mrs Kushel rushes on. “It’s all right to say ‘homonym’ when we mean ‘homophone’. That’s called a colloquialism.”
“‘Breaking’ has a homonym,” I tell her. “‘Braking’.”
I like homonyms a lot. And I like words. Rules and numbers too. Here is the order in which I like these things:

1. Words (especially homonyms)
2. Rules
3. Numbers (especially prime numbers)

I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a true story, which makes it a piece of non-fiction.
This is how you tell a story: First you introduce the main character. I’m writing this story about me, so I am the main character.
My first name has a homonym, and I gave my dog a homonym name too. Her name is Rain, which is special because it has two homonyms – rein and reign. I will write more about Rain in Chapter 2. Chapter 2 will be called “My Dog, Rain (Reign, Rein)”.
Something important about the word write is that it has three homonyms – right, rite, and wright. That’s the only group of four homonyms I’ve thought of. If I ever think of another four-homonym group, it will be a red-letter day.
I live with my father, Wesley Howard, and neither of his names has a homonym.
From our porch you can see our front yard and our driveway and our road, which is called Hud Road. Road has two homonyms – rowed and rode. On the other side (sighed) of the road is a little forest, and through the trees you can see the New York State Thruway. The word see has a homonym – sea. But even better, sees has two homonyms – seas and seize.
I’m in fifth grade at Hatford Elementary. There’s only one elementary school in Hatford, New York, and only one fifth-grade classroom in the school, and I’m in it. Most of my classmates are ten years old or about to turn eleven. I’m almost twelve because no one is sure what to do with me in school. I’ve stayed back for two semesters, which is a total of one year.
Some of the things I get teased about are following the rules and always talking about homonyms. Mrs Leibler is my aide and she sits with me in Mrs Kushel’s room. She sits in an adult-sized chair next to my fifth-grade-sized chair and rests her hand on my arm when I blurt something out in the middle of maths. Or, if I whap myself in the head and start to cry, she’ll say, “Rose, do you need to step into the hall for a moment?”
Mrs Leibler tells me that there are things worth talking about besides homonyms and rules and prime numbers. She encourages me to think up conversation starters. Some conversation starters about me that do not have anything to do with homonyms or rules or prime numbers are:
I live in a house that faces north-east. (After I say that, I ask the person I’m trying to have a conversation with, “And which direction does your house face?”)
Down the road, 0.7 miles from my house is the J & R Garage, where my father sometimes works as a mechanic, and 0.1 miles further along is a bar called The Luck of the Irish, where my father goes after work. There is nothing between my house and the J & R Garage except trees and the road. (“Tell me some things about your neighbourhood.”)
I have an uncle named Weldon, who is my father’s younger brother. (“And who else is in your family?”)
My official diagnosis is high-functioning autism, which some people call Asperger’s syndrome. (“Do you have a diagnosis?”)
I will finish up this part of my introduction by telling you that my mother does not live with my father and me. She ran away from our family when I was two. Therefore, the people living in my house are my father and me. The dog living in our house is Rain. Uncle Weldon lives 3.4 miles away on the other side of Hatford.
The next part of my introduction is the setting of my story. I’ve already told you my geographic location – Hud Road in Hatford, New York. The historical moment in time in which this story begins is October of my year in fifth grade.
Now I will tell you something troubling about fifth grade. It isn’t as troubling as what happens later in the story when my father lets Rain outside during a hurricane, but it is still troubling. For the first time in my life I’m being sent home with weekly progress reports that I have to give to my father. The reports are written by Mrs Leibler and read and signed by Mrs Kushel, which is my teachers’ way of saying that they’re in agreement about my behaviour. The reports list all of my notable behaviours for Monday through Friday. Some of the comments are nice, such as the ones about when I participate appropriately in a classroom discussion. But most of the comments make my father slam the reports onto the table and say, “Rose, for god’s sake, keep your mouth closed when you think of a homonym”, or, “Do you see any of the other kids clapping their hands over their ears and screaming when they hear the fire alarm?”
In the last report Mrs Leibler and Mrs Kushel asked my father to schedule monthly meetings with them. Now he’s supposed to go to Hatford Elementary on the third Friday of every month at 3.45 p.m. to discuss me. This is what he said when he read that: “I don’t have time for meetings. This is way too much trouble, Rose. Why do you do these things?” He said that at 3.48 p.m. on a Friday when there was no work for him at the J & R Garage.
Uncle Weldon heard about the monthly meetings on October 3rd at 8.10 p.m. when he was visiting my father and Rain and me.
My father was standing at the front door, holding the letter in his hand and gazing out at the trees and the darkness. “These meetings are crap,” he said.
Uncle Weldon, who was sitting at the Formica kitchen table with me, looked at my father from under his eyelashes and said, “I could go, if you want.” Uncle Weldon has a very soft voice.
My father whipped around and pointed his finger at Weldon. “No! Rose is my responsibility. I can take care
of things.”
Weldon lowered his head and didn’t answer. But when my father turned around so that he was facing outside again, my uncle held up two crossed fingers, which was his signal to me that everything would be all right (write, rite, wright). I held up my fingers too (two, to), and we each touched our hearts with them.
After that, Rain came into the kitchen and sat on my feet for a while.
Then my uncle left.
Then my father crumpled the letter from Mrs Leibler and Mrs Kushel and tossed it into the yard.
That is the end of the introduction to me.

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Eleven-year-old Rose is autistic and struggles to understand her classmates. But when her father gives her a stray dog, which she names Rain, the dog becomes her best friend, her anchor in a confusing world. So when Rain goes missing during a storm, Rose refuses to stop looking for him...A touching story from the beloved author of The Baby-Sitters Club.

Selected for the BBC Radio 2 Book Club in April 2016

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Book information

Key Stage
Accelerated Reader level
4.3 UY
ISBN: 9781474906470
Extent: 240 pages
Dimensions: 198 x 130mm

Author information

Ann M. Martin

Ann M. Martin is the author of the bestselling Baby-Sitters Club series, which sold 176 million copies worldwide. In addition, she is the author of over thirty critically-acclaimed novels, including A Corner of the Universe which won a Newbery Honor in 2003.

Reader reviews

Read the following reviews or write one of your own.

“How to look for a lost dog”
So brilliant and loving. A small girl named Rose has such a BIG heart. Anyone may also enjoy 'The girl with space in her heart'.
“How to look for a lost dog”
I'm 12 and I absolutly LOVED this book. Just one WARNING if you do not want to cry in public don't read this book.

Press reviews

“This gentle book explores loss in its many forms, and gives insight into the thought process of an autistic girl as she tries to make sense of the world around her. This book will particularly appeal to fans of Wonder by R.J. Palacio.”
“A sensitive look at what it means to see the world differently.”
“A bittersweet tale of an autistic girl and her dog from the author of The Baby-Sitters Club series. It may not be familiar to today's young readers but it's certainly worth discovering.”
“[A] moving, thought-provoking and beautifully crafted novel.”
“Often heart-rending, Martin's narrative relentlessly echoes Rose's autistic traits as it reveals the depth of tragedy which has affected the family - but offers readers resolution in the final pages.”
“Let’s be clear – THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING... It was a fantastic quick read and kept me engrossed from page 1. I actually missed my stop on the bus because I was so engaged with this story.”
“Quite simply I cannot remember when I last enjoyed reading a book as much as this one. If ever a new novel deserved to be read by a wide audience it’s this one. It should feature at the top of any reading group list. The book made me feel many emotions but most of all, sheer joy at being able to share in this wonderful piece of storytelling. To say more would spoil the enjoyment that anyone reading this book will surely have. Thank you very much for introducing me to this wonderful book and author.”
“A delight to read, this is a sophisticated and very moving piece of storytelling.”
“This is a wonderful book. I loved it... A warm and honest portrayal of what it’s like to live with autism.”
“An excellent portrayal of autism.”
“Rose is a character we root for every step of the way. She is resilient, honest, and, in her own odd way, very perceptive; a most reliable narrator.”
“Though Rose's story is often heartbreaking, her matter-of-fact narration provides moments of humor. Readers will empathize with Rose, who finds strength and empowerment through her unique way of looking at the world.”
“Simplicity, clarity, and emotional resonance are hallmarks of Rose's first-person narrative, which offers an unflinching view of her world from her perspective . . . A strong story told in a nuanced, highly accessible way.”
“This book was incredible.... It was like a rollercoaster, up and down and lots of moments where you want to scream or cry.”
“It was both cleverly and sensitively written with a beautiful and somewhat unexpected ending.”
“I was utterly absorbed in Rose's world; her home and school life are depicted in detail and we get a clear insight into what it's like to live with autism, not just for Rose but also for her family, classmates and teachers. This touching story made me smile and, on more than one occasion, it made me cry. We watch Rose as she discovers friendship and learns what it means to be brave.”
“As the grown up reading this book I enjoyed it as much as my son! We both were eager to read it each night and to find out what happened next.”
“Rose has autism, so she finds it hard to understand others sometimes. But then her dad brings Rain home. Rain changes her life forever.”
“A truly amazing book. It gripped me the whole way and I could not put it down. Rose is a girl who likes these things: numbers, rules, words and her dog Rain. You will love it!”
“An amazing story that is sad but also has a sense of humour. This will be loved by adults and children alike.”
“I think I would like to meet Rose and that we would be good friends! Overall it’s a good book. My mum wants to read this book now too!”
“I would describe this book as fabulous, thought provoking and thrilling.”
“When I finished this book I thought where's the next one? I had never read anything quite like it. It was different and unique and emotions flowed like tears.”
“This is a mind-boggling, page-turning book. Every chapter shows the true thoughts of a twelve year old, autistic child who lost her dog in a hurricane. Will she find him?”
“This is a slightly sad story, but a nice one.”