83 pages 2 hours read

Gordon Korman

No More Dead Dogs

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2000

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Summary and Study Guide


No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman (Hyperion Books, 2002) is a humorous middle-grade fiction book about how one boy’s unwillingness to lie changes his life and the lives of everyone at his school. No More Dead Dogs won the 2002 Young Reader’s Choice Award (intermediate), one of many award-winners penned by Korman. Gordon Korman published his first book (This Can’t be Happening at Macdonald Hall, first in the Macdonald Hall series) when he was 14 years old. He has written over 70 titles for teens and young readers, including New York Times bestsellers The Swindle Mysteries, The Hypnotist, and The 39 Clues. Korman is a graduate of New York University’s film-writing program, and he lives on Long Island. This guide follows the 2002 Hyperion Books version of No More Dead Dogs.

Plot Summary

No More Dead Dogs takes place at an average American middle school and follows four point-of-view characters (Wallace Wallace, Rachel Turner, Trudi Davis, and Mr. Fogelman) through the production of a play based on the fictional novel Old Shep, My Pal by fictional author Zack Paris. Each chapter introduces the character with the word “entering,” followed by their name. This is a nod to scriptwriting, where “entering” is used to denote that a character has stepped into the scene.

When Wallace was younger, his dad told him stories that weren’t true. As Wallace got older, he realized his dad lied about everything, and Wallace decided never to lie again after he saw how it destroyed his parents’ marriage. At the opening of No More Dead Dogs, Wallace has turned in a book review for Mr. Fogelman’s English class on the book Old Shep, My Pal. Wallace disliked the book, and Mr. Fogelman is enraged by Wallace’s assessment, arguing that Old Shep, My Pal is a classic worth more consideration than Wallace gave it. Mr. Fogelman gives Wallace detention until he agrees to redo the assignment correctly, and detention involves Wallace sitting in on rehearsals for the play version of Old Shep, My Pal.

At rehearsal, Wallace meets Rachel and Trudi, who play two of the main characters. Rachel takes an immediate dislike to Wallace, as does most of the cast, but Trudi instantly likes Wallace, as she does for any boy who shows her a little attention. Wallace gets annoyed with the play quickly and starts suggesting better lines that are less outdated and complicated. To Rachel and Mr. Fogelman’s dismay, the cast likes Wallace’s suggestions, and the play starts to change under Wallace’s direction.

Meanwhile, the school football team mourns that Wallace isn’t allowed to attend practice or games while on detention. They believe Wallace was responsible for their victory the prior season and that the team suffers without Wallace. Wallace tries to argue that he didn’t do anything but catch one touchdown that happened to win the championship, but the team remains upset.

Shortly after Wallace’s detention begins, someone starts attacking the play by leaving hurtful messages and sabotaging equipment. Wallace continues to suggest things to make the show better while trying to track down who is attacking the play. Someone from the football team is the obvious choice, but Wallace doesn’t want to believe one of his teammates would do this.

A few days before opening night, someone shreds all the scripts for the play and leaves Wallace’s football jersey amidst the torn papers. Mr. Fogelman tells Wallace to leave, but Rachel can’t believe Wallace did this. He’s grown on her, and she tries to help find the real culprit because Wallace has done so much for the play.

Opening night, Wallace calls some of his football buddies, but they’re all at the play. Seized by fear that someone will sabotage the performance, Wallace sneaks into the show to keep watch for suspicious activity. He realizes his football jersey went missing after the championship game the year before and plays the recording of the after-party in the coach’s office. He sees Rachel’s brother take the jersey, and Wallace runs backstage, afraid something’s about to happen.

Wallace finds Rachel’s brother, Dylan, in the wings. Dylan confesses everything, including that he planted a cherry bomb on the Old Shep stuffed dog prop. Unbeknownst to Wallace, the cast changed the ending so Old Shep lives, and the tampered-with dog is brought out on stage. Wallace makes a flying leap and smothers the prop and cherry bomb with a pillow just in time. The show ends, and Rachel demands an explanation. Unable to hurt her with the truth, Wallace lies and says he was the one who attacked the show. Later that night, the truth comes out, and the next day, Rachel and Wallace make up.