cover image The Longest Letsgoboy

The Longest Letsgoboy

Derick Wilder, illus. by Cátia Chien. Chronicle, $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4521-7716-8

Via a first-person narration, debut author Wilder writes about an old dog’s final walk with beloved child “Little,” employing an invented language that allows readers to see things as the dog does. Moody mixed-media spreads by Chien (The Bear and the Moon) capture the lines sagging under the dog’s eyes and the white that grizzles its snout. Calling, “Letsgoboy!” brown-skinned Little greets the hound with a hug around the neck: “Her paws crunchcrunch across diggie-dirt, and waybacks fill my head.” An aerial view shows scenes from the dog’s puppyhood from a great height, underscoring their distance in time. The old hound knows its end is near; as “I wuffwuff farewell to tweeters, branchjumpers, and fuzzhoppers,” it wants only for Little to be safe. When it’s clear that “she will be okay, and I am ready,” warm golds and celestial blues show butterflies springing from shafts of light that flow from its now-still form. As the seasons pass and another transition occurs in the family, a spread shows Little looking up and waving; her dog is watching over her. Though gentle humor lightens the story, it can’t compensate for the loss shown in this moving testament to the love between child and dog. An affecting resource for starting conversations with readers experiencing their own loss. Ages 3–5. Author’s agent: Jenna Pocius, Red Fox Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)