• Happy birthday Katherine Patterson (Bridge to Terabithia) and Helen Griffith (Grandaddy and Janetta Together).
  • It’s the birth date of Juliette Gordon Low (1860–1927) founder of the Girl Scouts of America.
  • Practice your tricks and read about magicians and illusionists on National Magic Day, created in honor of the great Harry Houdini who died on this day in 1926. Read Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini by Sid Fleischman.
  • It’s UNICEF Day, a tradition started in 1950 to raise money for medicine, clean water, food, education, and emergency relief to children in over 150 countries. UNICEF stands for United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.

Tonight we celebrate All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, a time of carved pumpkins, parties, or door-to-door canvassing in costume for treats. In my childhood the latter activity was quite casual, and costumes often consisted only of sheets with eye holes. But in more recent years Halloween costumes have become elaborate, often prepared with great care.

Eric Rohmann’s Bone Dog, the book of the day, isn’t a Halloween title per say. Although a scene occurs on Halloween, the book really focuses on other subject matter. In it Eric explored the idea of “how children hold on to the things they lose.”

Gus and his dog Ella have been friends for a long time. “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…A promise made under a full moon cannot be broken.” Dejected after Ella dies, Gus goes about his life without enthusiasm—he doesn’t even get excited about heading out to trick or treat on Halloween.

But on the way home from trick or treating he finds himself attacked by a group of skeletons in the graveyard. Suddenly Ella comes to his defense as a bone dog! Although she does not scare the skeletons, the two of them call up a pack of real dogs—who know exactly what they want from those skeletons. In a very touching ending, Gus asks Ella “Will I see you again?’

Eric Rohmann has managed to craft a story that is both just a bit scary and also a tearjerker. This is a hard combination to pull off. The book can work as a Halloween story or as a book to reassure youngsters who have lost a beloved pet. As he does in all his books, Eric uses the full page for text and art; he balances compositions of the skeletons running on one double-page spread with that of a lone dog carrying a bone. With a minimum of words he conveys an exciting story and makes readers care for Gus. With the genius that allowed Eric to show a special friendship between two animals in My Friend Rabbit, he showcases that special bond between children and their pets in Bone Dog. The pets of our childhood always do remain with us.

So I hope you have a wonderful All Hallows Eve. I myself will spend it quietly, with my old dog Lady. She makes me appreciate Bone Dog even more than I would otherwise.

Here’s a page from Bone Dog:


Originally posted October 31, 2011. Updated for .

Tags: Animals, Dogs, Halloween, Holidays
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Bone Dog
One year ago: Katherine Paterson


  1. Jory Hearst says:

    Rohmann’s skeletons are so beautiful in Bone Dog — and I agree that he captures both spookiness and sentimentality in this strange, but sweet, little book. Happy Halloween to you, too!

  2. Sydnee says:

    I love Bone Dog. It really is a beautiful book, and I’m hopeful some awards make their way to Rohmann for the seamless illustrations and story.

  3. I’m putting BONE DOG on my list. Your review and the illustration clearly show that this is a very special book. Thank you for sharing it here. Happy Halloween!

  4. Anita says:

    Thanks Jory, Sydnee, and Clara for weighing in on Bone Dog. Yes, a very special book indeed.

  5. Deb Marshall says:

    Thank you for sharing Bone Dog…Happy Halloween!

  6. Bigfoot says:

    I love this book. It makes me cry, but it comforts me, too. It’s amazing how Rohmann makes Ella as adorable as a bone dog as she is as a living, furry dog.

  7. Definitely illustrates the impact our pets can have in our lives. Thank you for sharing!

  8. G. Perry says:

    I just read this book today. Great artwork, and up comes one of those lines you can’t forget. “A promise made under a full moon cannot be broken.” And the little friend coming back to help. My, my. Is that not perfect or what.

    Halloween is my favorite celebration day of the whole year. (No scary stuff please.) Just celebrating childhood in such a special way.

    And I always think of Thomas Wolfe at this time of the year. “Old October has come again, come again.”

    Happy Halloween Lady Anita.

  9. Anita says:

    Gordon: Happy Halloween to you — my town’s has been postponed until November 3 (because of fallen trees and electrical lines). If I were a child, I’d be cranky tonight.

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