October 26, 2011
Bone Dog by Eric Rohmann
“Ella and Gus have been friends for a long, long time.” But Ella promises Gus that she will always be with him. When Gus questions how this is possible, Ella has a very simple answer. “Promises made under a full moon cannot be broken.”
The story quickly moves through Gus loosing Ella and trying slowly but surely to do the things that people expect him to do. Come Halloween, Gus goes trick-or-treating and, when his bag is full, heads home. But his skeleton costume is so good that a group of real skeletons surround him and try to get him involved in their frolicking games. That is until they discover that he’s really a boy.
Things don’t look at all good for Gus when a shimmering figure makes her way to Gus. Ella, as a bone dog, doesn’t pack much fear for the skeletons until she lets out a baying call and summons the neighborhood dogs to the rescue.
I know, I know. It sounds really maudlin and I normally would have avoided it (I hate dead pet books), but I love Eric Rohmann’s art work. Heavy black lines combine with varied colors for a stained glass effect that isn’t as much high art as it is simple and expressive. Even the skeletons in the story have facial expressions and that’s not easy to pull off.
And it really is funny. Think about it. What are skeletons made of? Big dogs, little dogs, they all like what? And this is where the illustrations get really, really funny.
Two parts funny, one part sad, this book might not be the best choice for a super sensitive child. I wouldn’t read it to my niece, but my son? You bet. Humor and love combine in a tale that sets out to prove that a boy and his dog are never really very far apart.