The best middle grade novels where the dog lives

Who am I?

I write middle-grade fiction. I write funny thoughtful books where diverse characters, including those with disabilities, are featured prominently. My books often include dogs, and I promise you this right now, the dogs will always live!

I wrote...

We Could Be Heroes

By Margaret Finnegan,

Book cover of We Could Be Heroes

What is my book about?

We Could Be Heroes is about Hank Hudson, who finds himself in trouble after an incident involving the boy’s bathroom and a terribly sad book his teacher is forcing them to read. That trouble catches the attention of new girl Maisie Huang. Maisie has been on the lookout for a kid to help her with a very important mission: Saving her neighbor’s dog, Booler. Booler has seizures, and his owner, Mr. Jorgensen, keeps him tied to a tree all day and night because of them.

It’s enough to make Hank even sadder than that book does—he has autism, and he knows what it’s like to be treated poorly because of something that makes you different. But different is not less. And Hank is willing to get into more trouble to prove it.

The books I picked & why

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Rescue on the Oregon Trail (Ranger in Time #1)

By Kate Messner, Kelley McMorris (illustrator),

Book cover of Rescue on the Oregon Trail (Ranger in Time #1)

Why this book?

I love it because it’s a time-traveling dog! What’s not to like? Ranger proves to himself and the friends he encounters that a scrappy, impulse-challenged dog can help you through the worst of times. Plus, it’s a series, so you know Ranger will live so that he can make it to the next book.

Secondhand Dogs

By Carolyn Crimi,

Book cover of Secondhand Dogs

Why this book?

Who knew that some dogs could be so obsessed with power? Carolyn Crimi that’s who! She has created a super fun and engaging cast of dog characters with complicated motives and relationships. Dare I say it? It’s heartwarming, and I am not so jaded that I can’t be cheered up by heartwarming dogs. Spoiler: The dogs survive, but not all the people. Still, loss and grief are dealt with in age-appropriate ways.

A Dog-Friendly Town

By Josephine Cameron,

Book cover of A Dog-Friendly Town

Why this book?

Oh boy! It’s a dog-centered mystery where celebrity dogs rule, and when a jeweled collar goes missing, everyone is a suspect. I adored the twists and turns here, and you will wish your dog could stay at the enchanting bed and breakfast where the action unfolds. Heck, I wish I could stay there. 

Rez Dogs

By Joseph Bruchac,

Book cover of Rez Dogs

Why this book?

Okay. I’m not always down on super heavy books. But this is a beautiful book, and the dog lives. Let’s focus on that. Told in verse, this book about a Native American girl staying with her grandparents during the pandemic dips into some difficult history and current event topics, but Bruchac’s faith in the power of stories and community makes it a compelling and memorable read.

Ginger Pye

By Eleanor Estes,

Book cover of Ginger Pye

Why this book?

This is one of my all-time favorites. But it’s an old one. It was first published in 1951. It is adorable and funny, and I don’t think it’s ever been out of print. It’s about a boy who searches for his dognapped dog, Ginger Pye. No worries. Love will triumph!

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in dogs, family, and time travel?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about dogs, family, and time travel.

Dogs Explore 235 books about dogs
Family Explore 332 books about family
Time Travel Explore 133 books about time travel

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Black Dog, A Dog's Purpose: A Novel for Humans, and Tomorrow if you like this list.