cover image Maggie and Silky and Joe

Maggie and Silky and Joe

Amy Ehrlich. Viking Books, $14.99 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-670-83387-0

Ehrlich's (Lucy's Winter Tale) tender story of the death of a beloved pet respects the bitterness of grief by avoiding sentimentality and letting honest facts speak for themselves. Her account of young Joe's lifetime association with the cow dog Maggie (``she'd lived on their farm before he was even born'') draws readers in, permitting them to gauge for themselves the depth of the relationship between boy and dog and thus to identify with it. When a skinny red puppy (later named Silky) strays onto the family farm, Maggie, already old, has the largesse to welcome and teach her, and ``from then on, it was the three of them''-until an August storm drives thunder-fearful Maggie under the back steps, where Joe finds her that night, dead. Blake's (Riptide) glorious and realistic paintings echo both the joy and sorrow in the story; in the spread following Joe's discovery of Maggie's body, the family's mourning is underplayed but palpable, just as in the text. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)