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Georgina Hayes is desperate. Ever since her father left and they were evicted from their apartment, her family has been living in their car. With her mama juggling two jobs and trying to make enough money to find a place to live, Georgina is stuck looking after her younger brother, Toby. And she has her heart set on improving their situation. When Georgina spots a missing-dog poster with a reward of five hundred dollars, the solution to all her problems suddenly seems within reach. All she has to do is “borrow” the right dog and its owners are sure to offer a reward. What happens next is the last thing she expected.
1. Where are Georgina and her mother and brother living at the beginning of the story? Why are they living there?
2. How does Georgina come up with the idea of stealing a dog? Why does she decide to go ahead with her plan, even though she knows it is wrong?
3. Why does Georgina think that Carmella is going to be rich? What does she actually find out when she gets to know Carmella?
4. What are the two mottos that Mookie shares with Georgina? Choose one of them and explain what it means, using examples from the story.
5. Compare Georgina’s life with her friend Luanne’s. What are some of the differences in how the two girls live?
6. List two of the times Mama uses her “mean voice” with Georgina. Why do you think she does this? Do you think Mama is really a mean person?
7. Why do you think Carmella continues to be nice despite what Georgina has done?
8. List all the potential problems that could arise from stealing a dog. How does Georgina address each of these problems in her list of rules for stealing a dog? Does she forget anything?
9. Find three instances where Georgina gets frustrated with Toby. Why do you think she is so impatient with him? Do you think she really thinks he is dumb?
10. Reread the last four pages of the book. Do you think the story has a happy ending? Why or why not?
11. Imagine that the book is written from another character’s perspective. How do you think the story would be different if Toby or Mama were the narrator?
12. If you were in Georgina’s situation, would you have stolen Willy? Why or why not? Have you ever done anything you knew was wrong because you thought you had a good reason for it?
13. Do you think Georgina is a good person? Use examples from the story to support your argument.
14. On p. 49, Georgina says to Mama, “Maybe you could act like a mother.” Do you think Mama acts like a mother? Is she doing everything she can to take care of her kids?
Barbara O’Connor lives in Duxbury, Massachusetts, a historic seaside village near Boston. She has a small but fantastic family: one husband, one son, two dogs, and one cat. She grew up in South Carolina, a beautiful state with mountains, beaches, and lots of interesting stuff in between. Barbara O’Connor has always loved to write. As a child, she wrote poems and stories and even a whole book. Now that she’s grown, she still loves to write. And she loves children. So it seems only logical to write for children. She also enjoys writing biographies because she likes reading about people’s lives and doing research. And she likes turning facts about a life into a story about a life.