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Middle-school librarians Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan prove that two heads are better than one when it comes to discussing YA and children's books

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009 12:51 pm
Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle by Major Brian Dennis
Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan

41315851Lynn: I’m convinced that our house has a sign clearly visible to all animal species that says, “Hopeless sucker lives here.” A mind-boggling array of creatures have wandered in over the years and many of them stayed. So with that and the fact that one of my sons served in Iraq, I knew I might not be entirely dispassionate about this book. Setting all that aside, I guarantee that even those of you indifferent to animal stories will be moved by Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle (Little, Brown, Nov. 2009).

Dennis, in a straight-forward, just-the-facts style, tells the story of a stray dog who found a friend and wouldn’t give up till they were together. Major Dennis befriended a stray dog in Iraq, naming him Nubs because of his mutilated ears. Each time Dennis left on patrol, Nubs attempted to follow. Finally the dog set off after the vehicles, following the trail across 70 miles of desert to their base. Large photographs and the simple words convey much beyond Nubs’ story though: the conditions in the country, the impact of war on everyone and everything, the connection humans have with animals and the caring heart of a tough battle-hardened soldier. If the story and pictures of the gaunt, exhausted dog and his heart-breaking loyalty don’t get to you, then Dennis’ simple concluding words will, ” The bigger miracle may be that this dog of war chose to become a dog of peace. Now Nubs has a name and a person to call his own.”

Our focus group loved this book from the moment they saw it and I am grateful for the stapled galley since we have read it nonstop. They don’t understand much about the war but older students will see what is between the lines and readers of all ages will be moved by this story of love and loyalty.

Cindy: “How far would you go to find a friend?”


This is a perfect book to share with young children as both a story of friendship and an age-appropriate introduction to the war in Iraq. It’s also a good reminder to all of us of the sacrifices being made for us by our service men and women. And, the dog doesn’t die in this book! :)

Update: Apologies for not mentioning the two coauthors on this book: Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery.

5 Responses to “Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle by Major Brian Dennis”
  1. Elaine Marie Alphin Says:

    I’m so glad you loved the book – I agree it’s beautiful. However, it’s not written solely by Maj. Brian Dennis. He participated in the creation of the book, but the authors who worked with him to pull it all together are Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery.

  2. Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan Says:

    Elaine, thank you for the correction. I’ve added an update to the bottom of the post to credit all of the authors of this engaging book.–Cindy

  3. Kristi Kettler Says:

    Just an addition…Major Dennis graciously came to visit my classroom when we were studying amazing dogs. The students in my class wrote to both Nubs and Major Dennis. Kudos to the publishing company that who included my students’ art and writing in the front and back of the book. My students were thrilled! I can’t say enough about Major Dennis and this publishing company. -Kristi

  4. Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan Says:

    Kristi, thanks for this interesting detail, I’ll have to go back and look at the book again for your students’ work. How fun for them!–Cindy

  5. Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan Says:

    Likely Stories reviews the Nubs book trailer today and gives links to other video coverage of Nubs:

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