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Bone Dog by Eric Rohmann

Bone Dog
By Eric Rohmann
Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan)
ISBN: 9781596431508
Grades K-2
In Stores

*Best New Book*

Holiday books hold a unique place in the world of children’s literature. They are likely to get a bump in popularity due to the holiday tie-in (at least for a certain part of the year), but critically, they often receive less attention. Bone Dog by Eric Rohmann (My Friend Rabbit) deserves all the attention it can get. It’s one of the more unique and well-crafted books (Halloween-related or otherwise) I’ve seen this year.

Gus and his dog Ella were the best of friends, but canine companionship doesn’t last forever. Before shuffling off the mortal coil, Ella makes a promise to Gus:

I’m an old dog and won’t be around for much longer. But no matter what happens, I’ll always be with you.

Ella passes on and Halloween arrives. Gus sets out for some somber trick-or-treating dressed as a skeleton. He is soon confronted by a posse of real skeletons who mistake the boy for one of their own. When they realize their error, the ghouls turn on Gus. But Ella’s perfectly-timed return to the world of the living (and pack of friends) saves the night.

It’s quirky, sure, but not in a way that will turn off readers. In fact, I think many readers will like the book precisely for the more macabre moments. While there’s some spookiness (and a touch of melancholy), humor also comes into play. This range of emotions is a welcome sight.

The illustrations are standard issue for this former Caldecott winner – exquisite. Here Rohmann keeps to his signature chunky relief print technique. The pages hang together superbly. Can a Caldecott be awarded on the merits of a 3 spread sequence alone? Bone Dog might just pull it off:

A unique take on the standard Halloween fare, Bone Dog will win a lot of fans.

Review copy from publisher

Also reviewed by Waking Brain Cells, The Cath in the Hat.

Read the excellent Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast look behind the scenes of Bone Dog.

Calling Caldecott recently discussed the Caldecott potential of Bone Dog.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. You will also want to take a look at THE HAUNTED HAMBURGER AND OTHER GHOSTLY STORIES by David LaRochelle and illustrated by Paul Meisel (Dutton 978-0-525-42272-3). It’s for somewhat older students than Bone Dog, but it is excellent as well! It will have students begging to hear it again long after Halloween is over.


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