The Spotted Dog Last Seen
by Jessica Scott Kerrin
Groundwood Books, 2013. 205 pgs. Fiction
Derek, Pascal, and Merrilee are three Grade Six students at Queensview Elementary school who have been assigned "cemetery duty" as their senior service project. Pascal and Merrilee think working in the graveyard will be fun, but Derek is worried about intensifying his nightmares--bad dreams of the day when he saw his young neighbor friend get hit by a car and killed. Soon the three are learning lots of things about headstones and funerary practice, and are also trying to solve the mystery of library books filled with clues to what's inside a locker time capsule. How Derek comes to terms with his sorrows under the sometimes grumpy tutelage of Mr. Creelman and the Twillingate Cemetery Brigade is the burden of this gentle tale. Derek provides comic relief with his hobby of printing T-shirt slogans. For the school secretary: "Not here to make friends." In the end, two other people who were part of Derek's past along with Derek himself find the will to go on after the three children crack the code. One of the New York Public Library's choices for best books of the year, The Spotted Dog Last Seen is a low key but memorable story about getting the help one needs in unlikely places.