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Stubby the war dog : the true story of world…

Stubby the war dog : the true story of world war I 's bravest dog (2014)

by Ann Bausum

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I loved this book and the inside look it gave into Stubby's life as a war dog. Children love dogs and will have no problem getting excited about this book. There is both a serious and a humorous tone as the book goes through stories about Stubby's life during World War 1. Children will come to love the dog just as the soldiers did and just as every reader of this book did. There are photographs throughout to keep children visually interested while they also learn about the history of this war. ( )
  efrenc2 | Oct 11, 2017 |
I'm very impressed not only with this book but with its backstory as well, how the author came to believe the story of Stubby and to write it. The fascinating true story of a man and a stray dog who became a war hero in WWI. This book is well-written, historical, non-fiction and a good way for kids to learn about WWI in a unique way. Ann Bausum, on hearing the story at first didn't think it could be true, but soon learned there was incredible evidence to back up this great story.

A young man at the time, J. Robert Conroy discovered a stray dog had decided that they belonged together. The dog was a possible Boston terrier cross with a stub of a tail so he became known as Stubby. They became inseparable and when WWI loomed on the horizon Conroy enlisted but Stubby apparently considered himself enlisted too, even to the point of learning how to salute by standing on his hind legs and raising his paw to his face. On parade, he learned the "eyes right" command as well.

Once Conroy was shipped overseas, Stubby went, too. He was assigned to be the Yankee Division's mascot. There were actually several animal mascots and workers in the war, but Stubby became an active member. Ann Bausum delved into a lot of military and WWI history to write this wonderful book. It is written especially for kids and they will enjoy it, I'm sure. It is a story about a very special bond, the book is almost entirely the heroic deeds of this dog and not the bloody side of the war.

Stubby was able to warn the troops about chemicals coming, snipers sneaking up on them in their trenches, rescued injured soldiers, could tell the difference between the enemy and his own soon enough to warn them. He even captured an enemy soldier himself. He was injured in the line of duty, but fortunately survived at the hands of the medics. Stubby was a genuine decorated hero, met three presidents, and definitely has a place in history. I highly recommend this book, it is timely this close to 100 years ago, and is suitable for all ages. ( )
  readerbynight | Jun 5, 2015 |
As a child (and still), I didn't and don't like reading about war, but give me a dog story and I'm more likely to be interested. Quite the celebrated, decorated war hero in his day, Stubby faced many hardships alongside the soldiers, and one kept a scrapbook about him, so there's an exhibit in the Smithsonian that honors him. Ann Bausum unearthed amazing details to flesh out this story, which she talks about in Research Notes. ( )
  pataustin | Sep 9, 2014 |
Stubby the War Dog: The True Story of World War I’s Bravest Dog is a biography, yes, biography, chronicling the life of a special dog and the role he played in the lives of the men of the 102nd Infantry and, especially, in the life of one man, James Robert Conroy. This book could also be viewed as a type of specialized book in the nonfiction arena because of the focus of the topic researched. The book can serve as supplementary material for those studying the topic of WWI. Students will learn many facts about American soldiers during World War I by reading Stubby’s story. I believe the text can also be viewed as a biography because Stubby’s life was well documented and not just by his human companion. Ann Bausum goes to great lengths to complete her research on Stubby's life. She treats her subject with great respect ; this is not merely a book about a dog. As the story progresses, the reader begins to view Stubby as another soldier in the unit. The author’s use of language to describe Stubby’s actions helps to blur the lines between dog and person: “While the soldiers trained, Stubby studied the scene. He learned the meanings of the various bugle calls that set the pace of the day. . . (14)” and after Stubby has been injured by shrapnel and is recovering in the hospital Bausum writes, “Near the end of his confinement, Stubby felt well enough to start touring the aisles of wounded soldiers at the hospital. . .(29)” By personifying Stubby’s actions, the author elevates Stubby to a more human level. Because the author has conducted an inordinate amount of research into Stubby’s life through newspaper articles, personal accounts documented by J. Robert Conroy, and other reference materials, the completed story serves as a biography.

From the moment I opened the book, I could tell the author was a professional nonfiction writer. This book could easily be used as an example for other nonfiction writers to emulate. The book jacket is colorful and appealing. The main image is a color photograph of Stubby wearing his improvised military uniform replete with medals and ribbons from World War I. However, I’m not sure how I feel about having the author’s other works displayed prominently on the back book jacket; I would rather have just had a larger picture of the photo of J. Robert Conroy and Stubby. My one real complaint is that the publisher did not use the same picture from the book’s jacket on the cover of the book. The publisher chose to reproduce an illustration from Stubby’s scrapbook for the front and back covers of the book. The illustrations are interesting but do not give any clues as to what the book is actually about. Only the back cover of the book includes an illustration of Stubby as he stands by a soldier. I wondered why this picture was on the back and not the front. There is also no title on the front cover of the book, so if you lose the jacket, you might not know what book you have in your hand unless you look at the spine. The endpages are the same: Stubby and Conroy are swimming and obviously enjoying their break during the war. I like the picture because it places them on equal footing. They are both swimming for their own enjoyment; one is not dependent on the other. I also like the way the first pages are laid out. The Table of Contents page faces a photograph of Stubby and Conroy, and there is a picture of the soldiers in a “washed out” special effect behind them. It adds interest to the page. The Table of Contents is broken into 16 parts; however, there are only five chapters plus an introduction and an afterward dealing with the story of Stubby. The other sections are reference sections. At first I thought the author should have created more interesting headings for the chapters, but then I changed my mind. I like that she chose to title Chapter 1 “A Dog’s Best Friend” instead of “Man’s Best Friend.” And I think because the subject she is dealing with is a serious subject, the chapter titles needed to reflect a more serious tone: “In the Trenches” and “Victory Lap.”

The opening sentences of each chapter grab the reader’s interest immediately. For example, “The dog came out of nowhere (11)” and “Any other war story would have ended there (41).” Each chapter heading demands attention on the page, and there are accompanying photographs laid out very artistically to keep the reader’s interest. However, I was surprised the book did not include a Glossary of Terms either at the end of the chapters or at the book of the book. There are terms specifically used in war such as regiment, fortified positions, artillery, Allied forces, trench warfare, liberation, etc. that may be unfamiliar to some student readers. The addition of a glossary would aid in student understanding of events being described. However, the author does explain many terms such as lice and shrapnel, and teachers can easily explain the terms the author chose not to.
Bausum uses photographs on almost every page in the text. Most of the photographs correspond to the text. For example, when discussing the artillery used during the war, she uses a photograph depicting soldiers traveling with their weapons and specific weapons used at the time. She also inserts information explaining what the pictures are about. The pages containing photographs and inserted information look like scrapbook pages. They are attractively laid out with contrasting backgrounds. She even uses a typewriter font for the inserted information and makes the paper it is typed on seem old and worn. I am sure she was inspired by Conroy’s extensive scrapbook he kept documenting Stubby’s life.

I liked the addition of the “Foreward” by Curtis Deane, J. Robert Conroy’s grandson. It further emphasized the important role that Stubby played in helping his grandfather cope with the dangers he faced during the war and how Stubby had enriched his grandfather’s life. His words are very thoughtful and carefully chosen, and his love for his grandfather is apparent in his language. I also was glad the author added the “Afterward.” I wanted to know what happened to Conroy and how Stubby’s jacket ended up in the Smithsonian. I didn’t realize it was more than Stubby’s jacket that was donated; Stubby was stuffed! I wonder why the author chose to add the information about Stubby being “stuffed” and put on display in the afterward and intentionally left it out of the main chapters of the book. Perhaps she felt that this part of the story may have sensationalized Stubby’s memory. It didn’t bother me that she included it after the main part of the story, but it may bother other readers. The one section I thought was unnecessary was the “Introduction” section of the text. The additional pages give interesting background information on the writer, but there are already so many additional sections to the book, the pages feel like a hurdle to cross in order to get to the story.

Ann Bausum has previously written six nonfiction books dealing with important periods in American history or important people. She is a notable writer and has earned numerous awards for her writing including the Golden Kite Award for best nonfiction book of the year in 2007 and the Sibert Honor award in 2006. Before writing, she spends hours and hours researching her subjects. In her “Research Notes” at the end of Stubby the War Dog, she informs the reader, “rarely have I undertaken a project with such slim prospects for research. What did we have to go on? Not much!” After she uncovers the newspaper articles written about Stubby in the scrapbook given to the Smithsonian by Robert Conroy, she realizes there are no dates of publication, no mention of the newspapers in which articles were published in. As she combed through databases and clippings, she also “consulted scholarly accounts and primary source documents.” No one can deny she thoroughly researched her subject. The Bibliography pages number close to one hundred sources. She also includes a page of Citations used in her text and an insert with credits for the illustrations used. Bausum also includes an Index which is well organized and detailed. For example, under the listing for Stubby she includes 35 entries with such detailed topics such as “in parades” and “bond with Conroy” making it easy for readers to locate specific information in the text. While exploring Bausum’s website, I discovered she has also written another book about Stubby’s life and exploits for older students and adults: Sergeant Stubby. This version has 240 pages in contrast to the version written for younger students which has only 61 pages. It would be interesting to read this other version of Stubby’s life to see what she added to the story.

There seem to be approximately thirteen books, fiction and nonfiction, referencing World War I in the collection of books at UNO. Two of these books are fictional books about soldiers and dogs during the war: Dogs of War by Shelia Keenan and Soldier Dog by Sam Angus. There are no nonfiction books that I could locate that deal with the same subject as Bausum’s book. A nonfiction book was published about Stubby in 1978, but that book is no longer in print. I did find one other book listed with a publishing date of March 2014 on Amazon: Animals in the First World War by Neil Storey. I couldn’t find a review of the book, and the cover wasn’t nearly as intriguing as Bausum’s Stubby the War Dog. Based on the lack of books in print on the subject of dogs during World War I, I believe Bausum’s book would be a great addition to the UNO collection. It is a thoughtful, well written book and happens to be about a famous dog that survives gas attacks and bombings during World War I. What student wouldn’t want to read it? The story is embedded in a documentary style version of a soldier’s life overseas during World War I which allows students to learn a lot about the dangers and drudgery soldiers faced during this time through Stubby’s story. Stubby is not only a mascot but also a symbol of bravery and perseverance. These underlying themes also drive the story and add interest. In addition, the layout of the book is inviting, and the amount of photographs embedded in the text makes the book a wonderful reference book as well.
I plan to recommend that my school library purchase this book for its collection. Although this book does not fit into my grade level curriculum, I would recommend the book to any students who are interested in learning more about World War I. I also believe it could be easily incorporated into the fifth grade curriculum at my school. In social studies, the fifth grade covers the American Revolution through World War II. This book would be a great source to use in the classroom and there is not an overwhelming amount of text. Teachers could easily read specific parts of the book illustrating what Stubby and the soldiers were facing during the war, or they could read the entire book to students. Reading about how Stubby warned soldiers of incoming gas attacks or how he kept captive Germans in line will help them to connect to this time in history through the eyes of this special dog.
Stubby on display
The author explains how she became interested in Stubby’s history
the author’s website—wonderful information about her and other books she has written ( )
1 vote SuPendleton | Mar 30, 2014 |
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This one is for the dogs -- and for the people who have loved them, especially J. Robert Conroy.

-- A.B.
First words
I was always told by my father and my grandfather, J. Robert Conroy, that we were "raised by dogs."  (Foreword, by Curtis Deane)
This much we know for sure: There was a war.  There was a soldier.  And there was a dog. (Introduction)
The dog came out of nowhere.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The publisher also released an adult book Sergeant Stubby : how a stray dog and his best friend helped win World War I and stole the heart of a nation also by Ann Bausum
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Move over, Rin Tin Tin. Here comes Sgt. Stubby! That German shepherd star of the silver screen may have been born behind enemy lines during World War I, but Stubby, the stump-tailed terrier, worked behind enemy lines, and gained military honors along the way. Private Robert Conroy casually adopted the orphan pup while attending basic training on the campus of Yale University in 1917. The Connecticut volunteer never imagined that his stray dog would become a war hero. He just liked the little guy. When Conroy's unit shipped out for France, he smuggled his new friend aboard. By the time Stubby encountered Conroy's commanding officer, the dog had perfected his right-paw salute. Charmed, the CO awarded Stubby mascot status and sent him along with Conroy's unit to the Western Front. Stubby's brave deeds earned him a place in history and in the Smithsonian Institution where his stuffed body can still be seen. Almost 100 years later, Stubby's great deeds and brave heart make him an animal hero to fall in love with and treasure all over again.
[retrieved 9/13/2014 from Amazon.com]
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American soldier J. Robert Conroy befriended a stray dog with a stumpy tail while training to fight overseas in WWI. They bonded so closely that Conroy smuggled him to Europe, where Stubby accompanied Conroy's regiment on the Western Front, lending both his superior olfactory senses and amiable temperament to the war effort.… (more)

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