Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bone Dog by Eric Rohmann

 Bone Dog by Eric Rohmann

Rating: 4.5 stars

It's rare that a book makes me tear up and also chuckle a bit.  So Bone Dog deserves a few minutes in the spotlight, not just for the absolutely fabulous illustrations, but for the story itself.

The story starts off with a little boy riding a big dog within a pack of running dogs.  "Ella and Gus had been friends for a long, long time."  The dog promises--under a full moon so his promise can't be broken--to always be with Gus.

On the next page, we see Gus without Ella, forcing himself to go about his days when Ella is gone.

Sniff, sniff.

Part of the going-about-his-day includes going trick or treating, and Gus dresses as a skeleton and heads home through a cemetery.  He soon finds himself surrounded by real skeletons who, when they realize he's a "real, live boy," they move to grab him.

(Kinda spooky...was surprised Lorelei and Ben didn't balk at it.)

But then, "the wind calmed and the moon broke shimmering from the clouds."  A bone dog--old Ella, now just bones--flies in with a smile (she must have been a Golden Retriever).  The skeletons laugh when Gus wants to fight them with a bone dog, but they quickly stop laughing when Gus and Ella whistle and howl for that large pack of dogs from the first page.

And then I chuckled, realizing that the dogs were going to chase the skeletons.  For their bones!  Three huge, wordless illustrations follow.  First, this one to the right, and then the pack of dogs, and then a small Dauchsund proudly trotting off with a single bone.

"Will I see you again?" asks Gus.  Ella wags her tail to respond under the full moon.

The pictures in here are some of the best.  Rohmann has won a Caldecott for his My Friend Rabbit, but I think this one is better than that one.  This is a very beautiful, slightly spooky, slightly funny, super touching book--wrapped in a simple tale of a boy and his dog.

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