cover image Fire, Bed, and Bone

Fire, Bed, and Bone

Henrietta Branford. Candlewick Press (MA), $16.99 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0338-0

Even readers with little knowledge of (or interest in) British feudal systems and peasant revolts may find themselves engrossed in this unique fictional tale set in 1381 and told from a hunting dog's point of view. The canine enjoys a comfortable existence with her family of serfs until her master and mistress are abruptly arrested for attending revolutionary rallies. The hound turns hero: she manages to find a home for the pair's children, finds the couple en route to prison and brings them their baby's hat so they know their children are safe. Through the dog's eyes, readers get an objective view of various acts of evildoing--including the execution of Rufus, his master, and the villainous miller's unlawful usurping of Rufus's property--before the canine and her clan do what they can to restore justice. Branford's subtle, poetic writing (""We slipped away under the trees to look for wood mice. But there was a bad smell under the trees, a smell of sickness and sorrow and secrets"") evokes both the splendor of nature and the turbulence of the times. The author's remarkable understanding of animal behavior and human tendencies reverberate throughout this eloquent historic tale and may well have readers considering what truly goes on in the mind of a dog. Ages 10-14. (Apr.)