Nine Lives – a Dog?

Cats have nine lives; dogs do not.  When I pulled the book at the library, I was puzzled by the title, The Nine Lives of Dudley Dog.  It immediately got me questioning.  How can a dog have nine lives?  Throughout the story, your students will be wondering – what’s going to happen next?

John and Ann Hassett spin a tale that begins with a little girl’s, Sister’s, birthday.  Sister’s heart is set on having a cat.  Mistakenly, a dog appears from the gift box.  The illustrated faces show the apparent distaste and dismay for the dog.  Dudley doesn’t seem to care.  He springs from the window on a wild chase after… a cat.  The Nine Lives of Dudley Dog

 A mathematical twist is added to the story.  In each scene, another cat is added to the chase.  The number symbol representing the number of cats is on some object on the page. 

Symbolism is sprinkled in as Dudley creates an accident, a life-threatening situation.  A repeated scolding occurs from the passerbyers. 

Firefighters plucked Dudley from the smoke.  “Bad dog,” scolded a fireman.  “Do you think you have nine lives like a cat?”

The ending left me questioning, slightly puzzled, wondering.  Rereading is essential.  Dudley runs into a circus and chases “cats with stripes”.  One tiger is licking his lips.  Hmmm….  Upon turning the page, a cat with similar markings to Dudley, returns home to Sister – making her birthday wish come true.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Nine Lives of Dudley Dog:

  • Repeated structure
  • Asking Questions – Even the cover picture makes you wonder.  After reading the story, I had to reread and connect the clues.  The title page helped me to connect (at least speculate) the answer to the ending.
  • Rereading for comprehension
  • Math – numbers sprinkled in with each scene

(Warsaw Public Library)


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