Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School

Written by Julie Falatko

Illustrated by Colin Jack

Readers Theater

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Informational Resources:

Author Information:

Author website:

Author biography:

Activities & Resources:

Learn about the book:

Find out more about what inspired Julie Falatko to write Two Dogs in a Trench Coat go to School.


Language of dogs:

Waldo excels at identifying objects based on smell. Find out more about dogs’ acute sense of smell:

Learn about how dogs are being used in school:


Learn about squirrels and their habits:

Why Dogs Chase Squirrels:

Be Creative:

Dog Disguise:

Paperbag puppets of Waldo, Sassy, and the Squirrels:

Research Waldo’s favorite snack, meatballs! Make meatballs for the class.

Ms. Twohey conducts several experiments over the 5 senses. Learn more about the five senses and conduct experiments that help you understand each sense better:

MakerSpace Activities:

Think about other ways Waldo and Sassy could sneak into school. Brainstorm, design, plan, and possibly build a way for Waldo and Sassy to sneak into school.

Brainstorm and build a squirrel security system to help Waldo and Sassy when they are at school with Stewart.

Research squirrels and create Waldo and Sassy’s vision of Squirrel Town.

Create a digital advertisement using Google Draw to promote Stewart’s school science fair.

Discussion Questions:

If you have/had a pet, how does your pet feel when you leave for school everyday? Describe the clues that help you identify this feeling.

What do you think pets do when their owners are not home?

Why does Waldo feel the need to guard the house? What is he looking for?

Why does Waldo think his humans escape? What does Waldo do to try to get his humans to stay?

What observations do Waldo and Sassy make that indicate to them Stewart dislikes school?

Why does Waldo think the best thing for Stewart would be to stay home and never go back to school?

Discuss some of the reasons students wouldn’t want to go to school.

Describe what do you do to help yourself feel better when you have a bad day at school.

Have you ever had to tackle a problem multiple times to see which plan works the best? Describe the problem you were trying to solve and your different plans. What strategies helped you persist until you succeeded?

What does Ms. Twohey say to the class that makes Stewart nervous? What do you to calm yourself when you get nervous in school?

Why doesn’t Stewart tell Waldo and Sassy that he is nervous about the class project?

Why doesn’t Stewart tell his parents that he is worried about the big project?

Describe Waldo and Sassy’s first impressions of Bax the Bully.

What does Stewart think of Bax? Why does Stewart think Bax is a bully?

What is Waldo and Sassy’s explanation to Stewart that Bax isn’t a bully?

What are some of the project ideas Waldo and Sassy suggest to Stewart? Describe an idea that you think might help Stewart with his project.

How do Waldo and Sassy help Stewart with his project?

Have you ever dressed up any of your pets? Do you think pets liked to be dressed in costumes? Give several reasons to support your opinion.

Do you think animals help humans relieve stress? What do animals do that help humans calm down and relax?

Book Talk Teasers:

Watch the book teaser for Two Dogs in a Trench Coat go to School on the Scholastic YouTube channel (0:41):

Use the Two Dogs in a Trench Coat go to School readers theater script to introduce the story.

Read Alikes:

Animal Fantasy:

Baldwin, Christopher. Little Dee and the Penguin. After her park ranger father dies, Little Dee is swept off on an adventure with a group of animals as they try to protect their penguin friend from being eaten by a pair of hungry polar bears. (NoveList Plus)

Blabey, Aaron. The Bad Guys. The Bad Guys, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Shark, Mr. Snake, and Mr. Piranha, want to be heroes, and they decide that the way to do it is free the 200 dogs in the city dog pound–but their plan soon goes awry. (NoveList Plus)

Erickson, John R. The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog. Hank the Cowdog, Head of Ranch Security, is framed for the murder of a chicken and becomes an outlaw with the coyotes. (NoveList Plus)

Pilkey, Dav. Dog Man. George and Harold create a new comic book hero in Dog Man, a crimefighter with the head of a police dog and the body of a policeman, who faces off against his arch-nemesis Petey the cat. (NoveList Plus)

Pilkey, Dav. Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot. Ricky Ricotta, a small mouse, is being bullied at school, but when he rescues a powerful robot from its evil creator, he acquires a friend and protector–and saves the city from Dr. Stinky. (NoveList Plus)

Selfors, Suzanne. Wedgie and Gizmo. An exuberant little dog and a disdainful guinea pig who become housemates in a newly blended family are challenged to overcome respective differences in a first entry of a new series told from alternating perspectives. (NoveList Plus)

Vernon, Ursula. Harriet the Invincible. Never a conventional princess, Harriet becomes an adventurer after learning she is cursed to fall into a deep sleep on her twelfth birthday, but after two years of slaying ogres, cliff-diving, and more with her riding quail, Mumfrey, things go awry at home and she must seek a prince to set things right. (NoveList Plus)

Watson, Tom. Stick Dog. Stick Dog and his four friends – Stripes, Mutt, Poo-Poo and Karen – will do anything to steal some sweet-smelling hamburgers from a family at Picasso Park! (NoveList Plus)

Man’s Best Friend:

Coe, Victoria J. Fenway and Hattie. Fenway is an excitable and endlessly energetic Jack Russell terrier. He lives in the city with Food Lady, Fetch Man, and—of course—his beloved short human and best-friend-in-the-world, Hattie. But when his family moves to the suburbs, Fenway faces a world of changes. He’s pretty pleased with the huge Dog Park behind his new home, but he’s not so happy about the Evil Squirrels that taunt him from the trees, the super-slippery Wicked Floor in the Eating Room, and the changes that have come over Hattie lately. Rather than playing with Fenway, she seems more interested in her new short human friend, Angel, and learning to play baseball. His friends in the Dog Park next door say Hattie is outgrowing him, but that can’t be right. And he’s going to prove it! (NoveList Plus)

Jonell, Lynne. Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat. When Emmy discovers that she and her formerly loving parents are being drugged by their evil nanny with rodent potions that can change people in frightening ways, she and some new friends must try everything possible to return things to normal. (NoveList Plus)

Lee, Jenny. Elvis and the Underdogs. All his life Benji, now ten, has been sickly and he has long been targeted by the school bully, but after a seizure Benji gets a therapy dog that is not only big enough to protect him, it can also talk. (NoveList Plus)


Falatko, Julie.  Illustrated by Colin Jack.  Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School.  Scholastic Inc., 2018.


Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School. (Starred)

Falatko, Julie (author). Illustrated by Colin Jack.

May 2018. 192p. Scholastic, $9.99 (9781338189513); Scholastic, e-book, $9.99 (9781338189520). Grades 4-6.

REVIEW. First published April 1, 2018 (Booklist).

Proud of their success in keeping the neighborhood squirrels at bay, house dogs Sassy and Waldo fixate on a new mission: rescuing their boy, Stewart, from the mysterious “school” to which he drags himself each day. With plenty of comical reinforcement from Jack’s freewheeling sketches, Falatko spins this promising premise into a hilarious romp—as, contrary to their expectations, the titular disguised pooches find that “school” is a nonstop round of astonishing new discoveries enhanced by exciting servings of meat (all food words throughout are in boldface) every lunchtime. Recognized by Stewart but none of the blithely oblivious grown-ups, new student “Salty Woofadogington” not only goes on to score triumphs in music class and PE’s ultimate frisbee, but helps to crank up Stewart’s lame oral report on squirrels into a truly epic class presentation. From Waldo’s introduction (as “a small and scruffy dog who smelled like kibble plus something else he’d rather not discuss”) on, the author fills the narrative with doggy gags, and trots in a tasty supporting cast that ranges from Stewart’s carefree working parents to “Bax the bully,” a wisecracking supposed nemesis who—his actual name being Bax Thabully—becomes a solid friend. “You’re such good dogs,” Stewart burbles at the end, admitting that his whole attitude toward school has been turned around. Few readers will disagree. — John Peters

Used with the permission of Booklist

School Library Journal (May 1, 2018

Gr 2-4-The title pretty much says it all. Two dogs, Waldo and Sassy, do in fact stand on top of each other, put on a trench coat, and impersonate a new student so that they can save their owner Stewart from the horrible place known as school. They can’t understand why he escapes from them every morning and goes to a place where he does “nothing” all day. At Bea Arthur Memorial Elementary School and Learning Commons, everyone but Stewart thinks that “Salty from Liver, Ohio” is a new transfer student. Readers will likely suspend disbelief for scene after scene of silliness as the dogs come to enjoy school and save Stewart’s science presentation. The book’s slapstick humor and gags play largely on the dog’s superior sense of smell, love of meat products, and obsession with squirrels. The design and typography will be appealing to reluctant readers-food words are in bold, and when the dogs speak, their words are italicized. VERDICT A goofy offering for readers who like over-the-top fare.-Tim Wadham, Children’s Literature Consultant, Puyallup, WA © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.   Reprinted with permission from School Library Journal ©2018