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Calico Dorsey

Last updated Friday, May 11, 2012

Author: Susan Lendroth
Illustrator: Adam Gustavson
Date of Publication: 2010
ISBN: 1582463182
Grade Level: 2nd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: May 2012

Synopsis: Neither rain, nor snow, nor gloom of night kept this pooch from his appointed rounds! Back in the 1880s, when the Old West boomed with the rush for gold and silver, the miners of Calico, California, needed a mail carrier they could count on. They found him in a Border collie named Dorsey. Based on the true story of the most celebrated canine mail carrier in U.S. history, Calico Dorsey tells the tale of a winsome stray who found both a home and a calling on the mining trails of the Old West.

Note to readers:
•  An author's note includes a photograph of the real-life Dorsey, as well as historical information about the dog and the mining town he called home.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Does anyone have dogs or like dogs?
•  What amazing things have you seen dogs do?

•  Stray: animal with no home
•  Wistful: sad and longing
•  Teeming: full of
•  Prospectors: a prospector in the Old West was a miner, a person looking for precious metals like gold or silver
•  Burro: donkey
•  Romped: to play with
•  Creosote: a type of bush that covers about 70% of the Mojave Desert, the region in which the story takes place. The bushes have a strong scent.
•  Gingerly: carefully

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  How do you think he was able to do this?
•  Did you know this was a true story?
•  If you have a dog, do you think they would be able to do this?

Craft ideas:
•  Calico Dorsey's Mailbag: Use yarn, fabric, and a brown bag to make a bag that Calico Dorsey could have used. Then have the kids write letters to their friends in the reading clubs and have them deliver them.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!