Letters from a Desperate Dog (Hardcover) by Eileen Christelow. Clarion, 2006. ISBN: 978-0618510030. pp: 32. Ages: 4-8, gr: preschool-3



Emma is a playful puppy who is often misunderstood by her human owner, George. He is constantly yelling "Bad! Bad!" at her all day. Emma gets tired of trying to make her owner happy so she writes to a canine advice columnist, "Dear Queenie." Queenie suggests several unsuccessful ideas. Finally, Queenie advices Emma to begin a new career to get away from George. Soon, Emma becomes a successful actor with a theater company, and leaves her troubles behind. The only problem is, she misses George!


  1. Let the children talk about their pets. If they don’t have a pet, they can talk about a pet they would like to have.
    Do they have any stories about "mischievous" things their pet has done?
    How do they treat their pets?

  2. Create a graph of all of the different kinds of pets the students own. Also have a category for "none."

  3. Pick something your pet might complain about (yucky food, sleeping outside, getting yelled at, being left alone, etc.). Write a letter to Ask Queenie explaining this problem or complaint. Exchange letters with classmates.

  4. Color a picture of a mischievous dog. {PDF}

  5. In this story, Emma realizes she really misses her owner. Can you remember a time when you really missed someone? Who was it? How did you feel? What did you do to feel better?

  6. Emma’s interview with the Five Little Monkeys is online. What is an interview? Are all of the Five Little Monkey books talked about in the interview? [reading to find specific information]
    • Christelow, E. (1993). Five Little Monkeys bake a birthday cake. Clarion. pres-3
    • Christelow, E. (2007). Five Little Monkeys go shopping. Clarion. pres-2
    • Christelow, E. (1989). Five Little Monkeys jumping on the bed. Clarion. pres-1
    • Christelow, E. (2004). Five Little Monkeys play hide-and-seek. Clarion. pres-2
    • Christelow, E. (1991). Five Little Monkeys sitting in a tree. Clarion. pres-k
    • Christelow, E. (2000). Five Little Monkeys wash the car. Clarion. pres-2
    • Christelow, E. (1996). Five Little Monkeys with nothing to do. Clarion. pres-2
  7. Emma emails lots of letters to Ask Queenie. Discuss the different parts of a letter including the date, opening, body, closing, and signature. Draw a big rectangle on the board and label an example of a letter. Compare the parts of the paper letter with the parts of an email letter.

  8. In the email on the last page, Emma tells Queenie that it probably won’t be her last letter. The cat seems to think that there is about to be more trouble. What do you think happened next? [reading: inference]

  9. Sing one of these songs about dogs:
  10. This story uses a comic-book style to tell the story.
    • Look at other comic strips to see how pictures tell a story.
      Find a comic strip with the dog Snoopy.
      Eileen Christelow really has a dog named Emma. Read Emma’s Story.
    • Create your own comic strip about either this story or a story of your own.
      Use large sheets of drawing paper, drawing pencils, crayons.
      Divide the sheet into 4 to 6 sections.
      Draw (and write) the beginning of the story in the first section, what happens next—in the next section, etc.
      Dialogue can be in speech balloons.
  11. Read another story about a dog trying to be good. With a partner, pretend you are Emma and Bobo meeting for the first time. Tell each other about yourselves (as dogs).

  12. Read another book by Eileen Christelow. Create a Venn diagram or chart to determine how the book is similar to Letters from a Desperate Dog and how it is different.
    • Christelow, E. (1998). Jerome camps out. Clarion. ISBN 978-0395758311. grades k-2
    • Christelow, E. (2003). Vote. Clarion. ISBN ISBN-13: 978-0618247547. grades 2-5
    • Christelow, E. (2002). Where’s the Big Bad Wolf? Clarion. ISBN 978-0618181940. grades k-3

About the Author


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Letters from a Desperate Dog. Accelerated Reader: Quiz #110669 EN; Book Level 2.4; Points= 0.5. word count= 1345

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