The Rough Patch by Brian Lies

Published by Greenwillow Books

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Summary:  Evan the fox and his dog are best friends who do everything together; the first several pages are bright and cheery, showing the pair eating ice cream, hanging out with Evan’s friends, and, best of all, working in their beautiful garden.  “But one day, the unthinkable happened,” and Evan is shown sadly petting the body of his beloved dog. The fox goes through different stages of grief: shutting himself inside, hacking his garden to pieces, then allowing weeds to grow and the garden to become a desolate place.  One day, though, he finds a pumpkin vine growing and he lets it stay.  He gradually begins to take care of it, and by the end of the season, he has a huge pumpkin, worthy of entering at the fair. He catches up with old friends at the fair and even has some fun. His pumpkin takes third place, and Evan gets a choice of prizes: $10 or one of the pups from a box on the stage.  “I’ll take the ten,” says Evan, but he can’t resist a peek into the box…and the final page shows him driving his truck home, a puppy riding on the seat next to him. 40 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  Wow, this is one powerful book; one of my favorites of the year so far.  Anyone who has dealt with any sort of loss will find it a helpful read, and the story is written in a way that even the youngest will understand.  Plus, the illustrations are adorable.

Cons:  I wish we had learned the name of Evan’s first dog.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

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