Literature / No More Dead Dogs

No More Dead Dogs is a novel by Gordon Korman. It's about an eighth-grade football player, Wallace Wallace, who refuses to tell a lie. So when he is asked by his teacher, Mr. Fogelman, to review "Old Shep, My Pal", he gives it a scathing review. Mr. Fogelman gives him an incomplete and holds him in detention until it's completed. Wallace is forced to attend rehearsals for the stage version of "Old Shep, My Pal".

However, Wallace is something of a celebrity due to having accidentally scored the winning touchdown in last year's championship game. He and Mr. Fogelman undergo the community's pressure to get Wallace back onto the bench. This is complicated by the fact that Wallace begins to like going to rehearsal, and even suggests improvements to the script. Also, someone appears to be sabotaging the play, and Wallace is the main suspect...

Admittedly a rather formulaic young-adult novel, it is livened up by quirky characters, an interesting plot, and a good dose of Genre Savvy.
This book includes tropes such as:

  • Accidental Hero: Wallace, due to the touchdown incident.
  • Adaptation Decay: In-universe. By the end of the book, the production of "Old Shep, My Pal" is almost nothing like the original script, thanks to Wallace's improvements.
    • And How! The improved version includes a rapper, the cast on rollerskates, a band called The Dead Mangoes, a moped disguised to look like a motorcycle, and a stuffed dog on a remote control car.
  • All Musicals Are Adaptations
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Dylan, Rachel's younger brother.
  • Beige Prose: Old Shep, My Pal prior to Wallace's edits. Sample line: "I'm afraid your beloved pet has expired."
  • Brutal Honesty: Anything that Wallace himself says comes off as this.
  • Cassandra Truth: Wallace in general, even though he Will Not Tell a Lie.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Coach Wrigley's tape of last year's post-championship game celebration is used to catch the play's saboteur.
    • Rachel is constantly writing letters to Julia Roberts, as a sort of diary. At the end of the book, Julia writes back.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Trudi.
  • Death by Newbery Medal: Discussed by Wallace in regards to "Old Shep, My Pal" and supplies the page quote.
    Wallace: Pick up any book with a dog and an award sticker on the cover. Trust me, that dog is going down.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Rachel.
  • The Ditz: Trudi, to a certain extent.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: The vandal who was sabotaging the rehearsals turns out to be Rachel's little brother, Dylan.
  • Drama Club
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Most people consider Wallace to be the savior of the football team because of a fluke catch he made at the previous year's championship. He's only a bench warmer.
  • Fallen Prince: Wallace.
  • Genre Savvy: Quite a bit, including a moment at the end where Julia Roberts writes back to Rachel, saying that she's been in enough Romantic Comedies to know that Rachel's in one herself and that she's obviously into Wallace.
  • Incendiary Exponent: Accidentally.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: When Trudi begs Wallace to hang out with her on the weekend, he tells her he has to rake the lawn, and thus plans to do so. Unfortunately, she takes this as an invitation, and invites the entire drama team to rake it with him. Though, that may not have been a bad thing, seeing as the job got finished in record time.
  • In-Name-Only: In-universe example: After Wallace, the cast, and the crew of Old Shep are done with their edits, the show hardly resembles the novel. It became a musical, for crying out loud.
  • Junior High
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Dylan, who subscribes to publications like "Ooze of the Month".
  • Quirky Town
  • Repetitive Name: Wallace Wallace.
  • School Newspaper News Hound: Parker Schmidt, of the "wildly inaccurate" mold.
  • Shoot the Dog: Discussed in the beginning of the book: Most "classic" middle-school literature has dead dogs, hence the title. A whole list is named off.
  • Stern Teacher: Mr. Fogelman's not a bad guy, just a bit of a control freak.
  • Still the Leader
  • Stylistic Suck: "Old Shep, My Pal", written in the style of a Glurge-filled dog story.
  • The Show Must Go On: Rachel's motto even when she was a theater extra in kindergarten. She uses these words to convince the cast to keep performing the show after the Old Shep dog is blown up with a cherry bomb.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Wallace. Until the end of the book when he tells Rachel a white lie so she won't find out that her little brother was the one behind the sabotage. Then he wonders what the hell made him do that.