By Eric Rohmann
Roaring Brook. $16.99. Ages 4-8
It’s not often that a book can be described by two almost opposite words, but “Bone Dog” is just such a book: tender and creepy, sweet and spectral, winsome and just a bit weird. On the cover, a boy in a skeleton costume sits next to the actual skeleton of a dog sporting a jaunty red collar and a wagging tail. As the story begins, we learn that Gus’s beloved pet, Ella, died in autumn, and now Gus doesn’t much feel like celebrating Halloween and trick-or-treating. Nevertheless, he pulls on his skeleton costume and trudges through the ritual rounds. But this is no ordinary Oct. 31. When clouds cover the moon, Gus is surrounded by threatening skeletons that mistake him for the real thing. Who should appear to defend him but his very own skeletal Ella? As foretold in the opening paragraph, “A promise made under a full moon cannot be broken,” and Ella’s promise to “always be with you” is fulfilled. Comforted by one last hug, Gus wends his way home with a bag full of treats and a full heart as well. Does that bevy of frisky dogs in his wake bespeak a new friend? That is, perhaps, another story, one that hints at how love endures.