Cindy: Lynn found The Rough Patch (2018) by Brian Lies at our local public library and was hesitant to give it to me even though she liked it a lot. The story concerns a fox and his pet dog who did everything together: ate ice cream, listened to music, and went on adventures in the truck. That is until “one day, the unthinkable happened.”

Last June, the unthinkable happened at our house, too. My grown daughter’s eight-year-old rescue dog, Scrappy, was diagnosed with cancer, and our only option was to let him go as peacefully as possible. It was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done.

Brian Lies has created a story that shows the stages of grief in emotional paintings and spare text. The fox angrily chops up the garden that he and the dog enjoyed, nurtures his pain by tending to the prickly weeds that invade, and watches a bright, huge pumpkin grow. The pumpkin encourages him to return to the county fair where he wins a prize: 10 dollars or a new puppy.

There are so many details in this book that speak to me personally (for instance, my father grew up in Collins, NY, a small village that used to boast the World’s Largest Pumpkin Contest), but this story about losing a pet, or anyone dear to you, is universal, and will surely help young children and adults through that difficult time. I’m buying a copy for my daughter as soon as I finish this post. Thank you, Brian, for such a beautiful story about one of life’s hardest events.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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