cover image The Rough Patch

The Rough Patch

Brian Lies. Greenwillow, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-267127-1

The polished, jaunty spreads that open this story by Lies (Gator Dad) give little hint of the deep emotion to come. Evan, a fox, cuts a handsome figure in his overalls and wire-rimmed spectacles, and he and his beloved black-and-white dog are always together. They drive in Evan’s red farm truck and play games, “But what they loved the most was working in Evan’s magnificent garden,” a lush, fertile enclosure studded with neat trellises. Then, two terrible things happen: Evan’s dog dies—readers see the fox slumped over the hound’s body—and in his grief, Evan destroys his garden, swinging a hoe that fells the plants and snaps the trellises in two. The story of how Evan finds his way through his grief rings true, and Lies’s atmospherically lit, exquisitely drafted paintings will absorb readers as they trace Evan’s journey through mourning. Some sensitive readers may draw back from tragedy this stark, but others will be fascinated by Evan’s mysterious world, in which pumpkins grow into prize-winning behemoths and rubber boots come specially made for fox feet. Ages 4–8. [em]Agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (Aug.) [/em]