Little Dog, Lost

Marion Dane Bauer, illus. by Jennifer A. Bell. S&S/Atheneum, $14.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4424-3423-3

Told in free verse, this charming novel examines themes of longing and loneliness through three memorable characters: a boy, Mark, who desperately wants a dog; a taciturn old man, Charles Larue, who cares for an empty mansion; and a small dog, Buddy, given away when her family moves. Newbery Honor–author Bauer (On My Honor) crafts distinct voices for each character and develops a strong sense of place in the close-knit town of Erthly, where Mark’s mother is mayor. The stories of these three characters converge when Buddy runs away, Larue seeks a purpose after his deceased boss wills him the house, and Mark channels his wish for a dog into a protest for a dog park. “So much longing/ So many lives/ filled/ with longing./ It’s what our stories—/ all our stories—/ are made of./ And what is longing/ made of/ except hope?” While Bauer offers a somewhat tidy conclusion, any child who has ever longed for a pet or tried to convince a parent to give in to a dear wish will identify with Mark. Ages 8–12. Agent: Rubin Pfeffer, East West Literary Agency. (May)
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