Book #173: Bone Dog

Bone Dog -- coverHere’s a lovely book by Caldecott Award winner, Eric Rohman.  He didn’t win for this one, but I think it’s well worth a look. A little boy, Gus, has a best friend in his old dog, Ella.

One night Ella said, “I’m an old dog and won’t be around much longer. But no matter what happens, I’ll always be with you.”

For a long while they sat together in the moonlight. Then Ella said, “A promise made under a full moon cannot be broken.”

When Ella passes away, Gus doesn’t feel like doing much, but come Halloween, he finds the heart to dress up like a skeleton and go out for candy. He is accosted by a band of skeletons in a nearby graveyard. When Gus removes his mask, explaining that he is not a skeleton and must decline their invitation to “shriek and growl” beneath the moon, the skeletons threaten to devour him.  Amazingly, Ella appears.  She is only bones herself, but together she and Gus howl at the moon, calling a pack of dogs from the distance. The dogs arrive and chase the skeletons, grabbing a few bones for themselves in the process.  Naturally.

A boy and his bone dog survey the moon on the last spread.

Afterwards, Gus and Ella sat together in the moonlight. Gus asked, “Will I see you again?”

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

With that she disappeared into the night.

What a heartbreak. The image of the boy sitting in front of a huge moon with his hand on his bone dog is hard to forget. You can read this book around Halloween time, for sure, but it’s really a story about love and loss. Beautiful.  ABZ

Bone Dog -- dancing skeletons


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