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Literature / No More Dead Dogs

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No More Dead Dogs is a young-adult novel by Gordon Korman. Wallace Wallace, eighth-grade football player, 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. In detention, Wallace is forced to attend rehearsals for the school play, which happens to be 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...


This book includes tropes such as:

  • Accidental Hero: Wallace, due to unintentionally scoring a touchdown during the previous school year is revered by the school
  • Adaptation Decay: InUniverse. 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. 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.
  • 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 as blunt at best. This is why he gets in trouble for his book report, because he says that he doesn't like the book.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Double subverted in the play when Old Shep survives what he died from in the book, then his dummy explodes.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: The vandal who was sabotaging the rehearsals turns out to be Rachel's little brother, Dylan.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Mr. Fogelman decides that a kid who doesn't agree with him about a book, despite technically completing the assignment, should be put in detention until he writes a book report that shows he likes the book.
    • The reason why Dylan was sabotaging the rehearsals was because Wallace was giving up football practice to voluntarily work with the play.
  • Easily Forgiven: When Rachel finds out from her parents that Dylan was the one sabotaging her play, and they ground him for "twenty years". In response, she brings a box of weird stuff to his room so that he won't get bored.
  • 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.
  • Genre Savvy: Wallace writing a book review and working on a school play are the plot's anchor so there is a lot of narrative awareness. This includes 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.
  • Gotta Pass the Class: Wallace gets a failing grade due to his review on "Old Shep, My Pal" and won't pass unless he writes a positive review.
  • 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.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Dylan subscribes to publications like "Ooze of the Month".
  • Not So Above It All: Mr. Fogelman starts getting into the show's rewrites when he's able to play music for it. He still won't change Wallace's grade, though.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Wallace's primary complaint with the Book Within A Book Old Shep, My Pal, is that it is literally one of these. There is no point to the dog's death, so he wrote that in his review. See Death By Newberry Medal above.
  • The Show Must Go On: Rachel's motto even when she was a theater extra in kindergarten is that the show has to go on no matter what. 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.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In-universe, the school play's adaptation of "Old Shep, My Pal" spares the title character from his Death by Newbery Medal. [[Then the radio-controlled dog puppet explodes, due to hilarious sabotage.]]
  • Stern Teacher: Mr. Fogelman's not a bad guy, just a bit of a control freak. He wants all of his students to understand his view of "Old Shep, My Pal".
  • Stylistic Suck: "Old Shep, My Pal" is written in the style of a Glurge-filled dog story.
  • Totally Radical: Wallace's edits involve using rap lyrics and words like "jive".
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Wallace is known for his blunt honesty. At 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. It ends up being meaningless since she finds out from her parents.
  • You Are Grounded: Despite Wallace's lie, Dylan's parents find out what he did and ground him for twenty years.


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