A Boy and his Dog

How much do you love your dog?

Are you brave enough to give him away?

duke picm

Duke, by award winning author Kirby Larson, is set in Seattle during World War II. Hobie’s father has been sent to Europe to fight in the war. Everyone is doing their part to support the war movement and Hobie hopes if he helps too, his dad will come home faster. When he finds out there’s a program where he can “lend” Duke, his German shepherd, to Dogs for Defense he is torn.



The poster in his classroom seems to be screaming at him. Are YOU doing all you can?  Hobie struggles inside. Is he really doing everything he can to help his dad? He’s saving all his dimes to buy war stamps. He’s helping his Uncle Tryg and trying to be the man of the house for his mom.



Is it enough? Hobie has spent hours training Duke and the military could use him to sniff out mines or help patrol borders. It is important work and Duke would be a great defense dog.

From the moment Hobie says yes, and watches Duke leave, he regrets his decision. What if Duke doesn’t come home? What if his Dad doesn’t come home? Does Hobie have what is takes to be this brave? You will have to read Duke and find out!

Duke launch collage

Kirby had a book launch party at Third Place Books recently. She talked about her love of history, the research about Dogs for Defense and the backstory she used from her own family that developed into the book. You can also watch an interview with Kirby talking about her book.

Kirby is a serious dog lover and a portion of the proceeds went to Reading with Rover, a local reading organization where children read to dogs and practice their reading in a fun and non-stressful way. Along with some other Reading with Rover teams, Reese and I had the opportunity to attend the launch of Duke at Third Place Books.

IMG_2028cAll the copies sold out and I think Kirby found some new fans for her books! Kirby also signed copy for our library! Thank you! Check out Duke at your local library or buy a copy at your favorite bookstore. If you would like to learn more, visit Kirby Larson’s website and find out about other books she has written.


Could you give up your dog or other pet for a good cause?

How can students help other people?





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5 thoughts on “A Boy and his Dog

  1. Dear Mrs Hembree,

    I love this post and I hope to read this novel one day.
    I feel I would be torn too whether I could part with my beloved dog Hack.
    However is saying this I feel in my heart of heart I really couldn’t give up my dog. Hack is such a huge part of our family. Also I feel Hack would be heart broken if we did part ways even if it is for a good cause.

    Dogs have always been a huge part of my life right from when I was a child and now.

    From your friend down under,

    • Dear AA,
      I would not be able to give that kind of sacrifice I don’t think. I’m not in the situation, but I don’t think I have the same bravery that Hobie has.
      Does Hack sleep on any beds at your house? Reese has been sneaking up where it’s warm and soft lately. I don’t think he thinks he’s a dog anymore. He’s too spoiled!
      From Reese’s handmaiden,
      Mrs. Hembree

  2. Dear Mrs. Hembree,

    What a tremendous story of sacrifice and love. I had not heard of the book, so thank you for the review and recommendation.

    Dogs can, of course, be such great pals and companions, but they can be tremendous service animals as well.

    A big kiss for Reese!

    ~Mrs. Y♥llis

    • Dear Mrs. Yollis,
      My big 125 pound pal is a big baby at the moment. Mr. Hembree is out of town and Reese is not happy. I don’t think he would be a good Dogs for Defense candidate. He prefers sleeping on beds with soft comforters. He is a great therapy dog however, and so we will stay with that!
      Sending hugs to Buck!

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