Friday, September 15, 2023


Ross, M.C. Nugly
September 5, 2023 by Scholastic Inc.
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Nugget is born in Boston to Wendy, a mixed breed dog. His father is not mentioned. He has six brothers and sisters, and they all have names like Frosty and Cheese Fries. There is a girl, Taylor, who takes good care of him, and he finds that being cute is very important, even though Wendy cautions him that his true value lies in his ability to love. When the family has to move to San Francisco for the father's job, Taylor is okay with embracing the opportunity until she realizes that the family can only take Wendy. Nugget runs away, and ends up befriending a porcupine, Lucky, at the Franklin Park Zoo. Lucky manages to find a place for Nugget to live, and gets food for him from other animals. An encounter with a lion ends with Nugget in a last chance shelter, badly injured and facially disfigured. Ms. Tran, who runs a restaurant, takes him home as a surprise for her daughter Emily, and encourages her to take the dog to field hockey practice. Other girls on the team are very mean about the dog and want Emily to name him "Ugly". Emily is struggling with their actions, and also worries that her mother is working too hard at the restaurant. When the girls put a collar on Nugget labeled "Ugly", he runs away again. He ends up with the large Flanagan clan, where he bonds with Sam, a boy with a large port wine stain birthmark, who champions the dog's cause and names him "Nugly" for NOT ugly. When Nugly feels unloved even in this household, he makes a final break, but this time, all of the people in his past come together to find him and make sure he feels valued and secure.
Strengths: This was a solid dog adventure book, and the Boston setting was interesting, especially the zoo. Nugget gets to live with a variety of different families, and it is very sad when he constantly runs away. There's some on trend messaging about the fact that Nugget's cuteness is not his entire value even though it occasionally seems like this is the case. He has many trust issues, and it's interesting to see him work through these. 
Weaknesses: Taking a small dog to field hockey practice seemed like a bad idea. It was overly coincidental that all of the people who came in contact with Nugly showed up at the end. 
What I really think:  This is a good choice for readers who can't get enough dogs books like Hoyle's Just Gus or Stevenson's Midnight at the Shelter. 

My favorite part of this is Lucky's advice. "The closer they get to anyone, the more everyone's going to get hurt. The way I see it, that's life. You can't rely on anyone else. You can't get your hopes up for someone to like you. It only ends in pain." This is absolutely correct, but I have a feeling we are supposed to think Lucky is wrong. He's not. At least with dogs, the only thing they do to break our hearts is to die, and that's not their fault. 

Ms. Yingling


  1. This books sounds sad! However, the Franklin Park Zoo is just a few miles away so I think I might read it anyway.

  2. I agree with you really that's life!