Dear Mrs. LaRue:
Letters from Obedience School
by Mark Teague

In Dear Mrs. LaRue, a naughty dog is sent to Dog Obedience School, and writes desperate pleas to his owner, Mrs. LaRue, begging her to rescue him from the horrors he is experiencing.  In his letters, he describes a prison environment of harsh treatment, terrible food, and frightening 'inmates'. However, as the reader can clearly see via the background illustrations, the obedience school is anything but a prison environment. On the contrary, the posh Igor Brotweiler Canine Academy is akin to a doggy spa, where guests are pampered, fed delicious food, and spend their days frolicking in the sun.

This book is hilarious! Your students will love that they are in on the joke, and delight in Ike's exaggerations.  Publisher's Weekly summed up their review of this book by saying, "
All in all, a tail-wagger of a book that will have readers howling with amusement."  And Booklist ended their starred review of this book by saying, "Good story, well told and delightfully illustrated."

When Dear Mrs. LaRue first came out, we were hoping that it would be so popular that the author would decide to make sequels. Thankfully, that did happen!  So, if you children or class like this book, be sure to check out the sequel books as well. For now, there are three:

- Detective LaRue: Letters from the Investigation
- LaRue Across America: Postcards from the Vacation
- Letters from the Campaign Trail: LaRue for Mayor

Dear Mr. LaRue Reading Level:

Interest Level:  Kindergarten-Grade 3
DRA Level:   20
Lexile Measure:  500L
Grade Level Equivalent:  3.6
Guided Reading Level:  L

Read-Aloud vs. Individual Reading:
For kids in Kindergarten and first grade, this book will need to be a read-aloud rather than for individual reading, as the reading level will be too high for the vast majority of them. Some second graders may be able to read this book on their own, especially as the year moves on, and third graders should be able to read this one on their own.

See Inside Dear Mrs. LaRue:

Below are sample pages from inside the book.   Below is the first page, explaining how and why Ike is being enrolled in dog obedience school:

In this first sample spread, Ike writes: "How could you do this to me? This is a PRISON, not a school. You should see the other dogs. They are BAD DOGS, Mrs. LaRue!  I do not fit in. Even the journey here was a horror..."  Most of the pages are formatted this way, showing a letter sent from the dog to his owner in which he describes one of the horrible aspects of the Dog Obedience School, printed aside two illustrations-- one depicting the dog's made up version and one showing how it really is at the 'dog spa.'  You can't help but laugh at the disparities!

In this following two sample spreads. Ike continues to write about the supposed horrors he is enduring -- first about the 'dreadful' food and then the terrible health conditions. Clearly, that is not the case. Ike's propensity for dramatics and exaggeration will have your kids laughing out loud.

Dear Mrs. LaRue Activity Ideas:

Since the book is written in the form of letters--with proper letter format (ie: including date, salutation line, etc)--this is a fun book to use when teaching letter writing. In fact, all the books in the series would work well for this purpose (although we think this is the best one).