Bone Dog

Bone Dog

“Will I see you again?” Gus asks his dog Ella. “A promise made under a full moon cannot be broken,” she replies. What is more natural than a boy and his dog sitting together under the moon?  Nothing—except that Gus has his arm around his skeletal dog, who died earlier in the story…Creepy? Macabre? Not in this case; this is reach-for-a-tissue stuff, the kind of story relationship that stays with a reader and gives him or her hope beyond the end of life. Caldecott winner Rohmann has created a world of one boy and one dog whose love extends beyond life’s final passage. The initial rice-paper overlay of Ella in life contrasted with the title page is a shock, but all the skeletons in the book are rendered with a kind of happy movement and joy so that the fear such pictures might evoke is softened and made accessible to young readers. The lithographic illustrations are composed of thick, soft lines filled with muted colored details which reflect the somber mood of the story. As Gus moves forward with life after Ella is gone, he finds little joy, even in Halloween, until the courageous Ella finds a way to help Gus out of a sticky situation with a bunch of skeletons in a graveyard. Although the subject may be scary for youngsters, it is therapeutic on multiple levels. It reinforces the timelessness of love, the power of the imagination, and the pathos a masterfully told and illustrated story can bring to a child’s world. This book is a must-have for Halloween, art of children’s illustration, and as a bibliotherapy choice for the loss of one’s beloved pet.

32 pages

ISBN-13: 978-1596431508

Reviewed by:  Shari Shaw, Library Media Specialist, Michigan, USA


“ A promise made under a full moon cannot be broken,” says Ella.

Gus and his dog Ella have been friends for a long time.  But Ella is old.  She makes a promise to Gus under the full moon to always be with him no matter what happens.  So after her death when Gus needs to be rescued on Halloween from some skeletons, who should come to the rescue but Ella.  This is a heartwarming story for children who love their pets.

Reviewed by: Alice L. Cyphers, Librarian and Reading Specialist, Pennsylvania, USA

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