Ann M. Martin
"My tale begins with a tail," begins Bone, a stray dog, in his first-person (first-dog?) narrative, recollecting his earliest memory. Starting at the age of 12 days, when he and his timid sister, Squirrel, first opened their eyes and became aware of their surroundings, he describes their mother and the shed where they were born, near a large house in the country. Mother teaches them how to protect themselves and how to find and catch food. When Mother leaves and doesn't return, the two puppies, on their own for the first time, are no longer safe there and they prepare to move on.
In chapter 2, we meet fourth grader Charlie Elliot, whose adored older brother, RJ, died in a freak accident on the family's farm in November, leaving behind his dog, Sunny. Charlie was flying a kite that day, and he heard his brother fall from the tree and ran to the house to get help. By the time the ambulance arrived, RJ was dead. Now Charlie is sitting in the audience with his parents on the day of RJ's eighth grade graduation, and he wishes to be anywhere than here, waiting to accept RJ's diploma. To Charlie, it feels like the funeral all over again.
Chapter 3 introduces yet another boy, eleven-year-old Henry, who has wanted a dog for as long as he can remember. On his Christmas list, for the third year in a row, he's asked for a dog and "everything for a dog," a request his parents do not plan on honoring. Though he has a cat and two hamsters, he really needs a dog for a best friend, especially since his best friend, Matthew, just moved away. "If I had a dog," he thinks, "I would name him Buddy."
How these three seemingly unrelated characters and stories come together will be absorbing and surprising for kids who probably already know what it's like to love a dog. To find out what happened to Bone's sister, Squirrel, readers will want to read the companion book, A Dog's Life: The Autobiography of a Stray.
Reviewed by : JF.
Themes : BROTHERS. DOGS. FATHERS. GRIEF.
CRITICS HAVE SAID
- "The interconnected stories, told in alternating chapters, are thoughtfully written and crafted to a satisfying convergence." – School Library Journal
IF YOU LOVE THIS BOOK, THEN TRY:
- Cleary, Beverly. Henry Huggins. Morrow, 1950.
- Cleary, Beverly. Strider. Morrow, 1991.
- DiCamillo, Kate. Because of Winn-Dixie. Candlewick, 2000.
- Gipson, Fred. Old Yeller. HarperCollins, 1942.
- Hesse, Karen. Sable. Henry Holt, 1994.
- Lindquist, Susan Hart. Wander. Delacorte, 1998.
- Lowry, Lois. Stay!: Keeper’s Story. Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
- Martin, Ann M. Belle Teal. Scholastic, 2001.
- Martin, Ann M. A Corner of the Universe. Scholastic, 2002.
- Martin, Ann M. A Dog’s Life: The Autobiography of a Stray. Scholastic, 2005.
- Michael, Livi. City of Dogs. Putnam, 2007.
- Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Shiloh. Atheneum, 1991.
- O’Connor, Barbara. How to Steal a Dog. Farrar/Frances Foster, 2007.
- Park, Barbara. Mick Harte Was Here. Knopf, 1995.