Suburban Mosaic

Notes from the Dog

By Gary Paulsen

Grades 4 – 5

Discussion Questions
Notes From The Dog

  1. Finn describes a true friend as “anyone who listens to everything you have to say, even the bad stuff and the boring things that don’t interest them.”
    Are you a true friend to someone? Is it hard to be a true friend?
  2. Matthew’s parents are going through a divorce. Matthew is living with Finn for the summer. Does Matthew’s friendship with Johanna affect his relationship with Finn?
  3. Finn has a crush on Karla. How does Johanna motivate him to take a risk and get Karla to talk to Finn?
  4. Johanna is a breast cancer survivor. Do you know anyone that has had cancer? How did affect their family and friends?
  5. Johanna encourages Finn to grow a garden. Do you think the garden is a symbol for something else?
  6. Have you kept a journal or diary? Why does Johanna encourage this?
  7. Finn describes himself as a loner, yet he opens up to Johanna and her family. How does this change his summer?
  8. Johanna wrote a note for Finn that says, “Don’t question the miracles: they just might stop coming.” What does she mean?
  9. How do the notes from the dog change Finn’s feelings about himself?
  10. Reread pages 131 and 132. Why do you think that Gary Paulsen chose the name Johanna? Do you think it is from the Bob Dylan song “Visions of Johanna?”