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Overview

2 Months, 28 Days, 9 Hours, and 12 minutes earlier...

Sally Simplesmith's life changed forever. She came face-to-face with death - a delightful, dearly departed little dog she lovingly calls Bones. But when the cadaverous canine is ...
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Sally's Bones

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Overview

2 Months, 28 Days, 9 Hours, and 12 minutes earlier...

Sally Simplesmith's life changed forever. She came face-to-face with death - a delightful, dearly departed little dog she lovingly calls Bones. But when the cadaverous canine is accused of a crime he didn't commit, Sally decides to solve the case herself!

Does Sally have what it takes to fetch a thief?

Sally's Bones is the impossibly possible tale of a girl, a crime, and a lovably lifeless, decidedly dead dog.
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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
Writing a novel that tackles tough issues like grief and loss while maintaining a measure of levity is no easy feat, but that is exactly what Cadenhead accomplishes here. Lovable Sally Simplesmith is confronting many of the social problems that are common to the preteen experience: her classmates treat her as though she is invisible, while her father is an oft-absent workaholic. To complicate her plight, Sally is also coping with the very recent death of her mother. While tearfully visiting her mother's grave, she encounters a tiny dog that seems like the solution to her loneliness. The only problem is that her new pooch Bones is a lively little skeleton. When Bones is falsely accused of a crime, his separation from Sally seems inevitable.
Spooky without being scary, dark without being morbid, this is a winning tale about loyalty in the face of loss. Dog lovers and fans of storytellers like Neil Gaiman will adore sullen Sally and her dearly departed sidekick.
There's a Book
Wow. It's been a while since I've read a middle grade book that completely grabbed me the way only a few adult & YA novels do, but Sally's Bones absolutely did. When I finished the story I set it down with a huge grin on my face and couldn't stop thinking about how much I enjoyed reading Sally's story. From the plot to the characters, every part of the story was well developed and came to life as you turned the pages. Overall, Sally's Bones is the kind of story you read as an adult that has you reflecting on your own middle school years and has you rushing out to buy copies for every tween you know. This was the perfect blend of paranormal and reality to make it a great read for young readers; one they'll enjoy and be eager for more. I'm definitely hoping there's a sequel in Sally & Bones' future and am excited to read more from Mackenzie Cadenhead as she writes more books for young readers. Sally's Bones is a story about acceptance, individuality, loss and triumph that's filled with a bit of mystery readers will love!
Reading Tween
This book was super fun and funny! I liked Sally Simplesmith's character and LOVED Bones the dead dog.
— Anna Banana
Through the Looking Glass
In this decidedly odd and charmingly quirky book, readers will find out that love really can overcome death. In certain situations. It is hard not to feel pity for Sally, who so desperately wants a friend, and who finds one who is so unusual that he gets into trouble almost immediately.

Readers who like tales that are strange, a little dark, but that have a happy ending will truly enjoy this title.
— Marya Jansen-Gruber

Rivertowns Enterprise
Cadenhead captur es the essence of human behavior in a suspenseful yet endearing story.
From the Publisher
Poised to give up the ghost, a lonely little girl finds a reason to live when she discovers a canine crony with a graveyard past.
With her "blunt-bobbed hair," "chalky white skin" and Tone Death concert T-shirts, Sally Simplesmith doesn't fit in with her pretty-in-pink sixth-grade Merryland Middle School classmates. After ultra-popular Viola Vanderperfect deliberately excludes her from everything, outcast Sally feels, well, "cast out." Lying on her mother's grave, Sally desperately longs for death. Instead, she gets Bones, a "bright-smiling, tail-wagging skeleton dog," sent by her departed mother's spirit. Bones becomes Sally's best friend and savior. Her kind, but detached, father warns Sally to keep the "petrified pooch" a secret, but soon the "cadaverous canine" is exposed, and the "former social leper and her imperishable pet" become "overnight sensations." When all neighborhood dog bones vanish, the D.C. (Dog Catcher) suspects Bones, forcing Sally to take drastic measures to exonerate him and uncover the real culprit. Could it be villainous Viola? Heavily tongue-in-cheek tombstone talk, snappy text, over-the-top melodrama plus a sympathetic heroine equal one hilarious read. Black-and-white spot art highlights skeletal Bones' corporeal personality. A silly, deliberately histrionic but surprisingly suspenseful preteen tale of despair, deception and redemption with a canine character straight out of a Tim Burton flick. (Melodrama. 9-12)

This book was super fun and funny! I liked Sally Simplesmith's character and LOVED Bones the dead dog.

In this decidedly odd and charmingly quirky book, readers will find out that love really can overcome death. In certain situations. It is hard not to feel pity for Sally, who so desperately wants a friend, and who finds one who is so unusual that he gets into trouble almost immediately.

Readers who like tales that are strange, a little dark, but that have a happy ending will truly enjoy this title.

Wow. It's been a while since I've read a middle grade book that completely grabbed me the way only a few adult & YA novels do, but Sally's Bones absolutely did. When I finished the story I set it down with a huge grin on my face and couldn't stop thinking about how much I enjoyed reading Sally's story. From the plot to the characters, every part of the story was well developed and came to life as you turned the pages. Overall, Sally's Bones is the kind of story you read as an adult that has you reflecting on your own middle school years and has you rushing out to buy copies for every tween you know. This was the perfect blend of paranormal and reality to make it a great read for young readers; one they'll enjoy and be eager for more. I'm definitely hoping there's a sequel in Sally & Bones' future and am excited to read more from Mackenzie Cadenhead as she writes more books for young readers. Sally's Bones is a story about acceptance, individuality, loss and triumph that's filled with a bit of mystery readers will love!

Writing a novel that tackles tough issues like grief and loss while maintaining a measure of levity is no easy feat, but that is exactly what Cadenhead accomplishes here. Lovable Sally Simplesmith is confronting many of the social problems that are common to the preteen experience: her classmates treat her as though she is invisible, while her father is an oft-absent workaholic. To complicate her plight, Sally is also coping with the very recent death of her mother. While tearfully visiting her mother's grave, she encounters a tiny dog that seems like the solution to her loneliness. The only problem is that her new pooch Bones is a lively little skeleton. When Bones is falsely accused of a crime, his separation from Sally seems inevitable.
Spooky without being scary, dark without being morbid, this is a winning tale about loyalty in the face of loss. Dog lovers and fans of storytellers like Neil Gaiman will adore sullen Sally and her dearly departed sidekick.

Cadenhead captur es the essence of human behavior in a suspenseful yet endearing story.

This is a sweet story about self-acceptance, prejudice and grief that manages to remain light and humorous for its targeted elementary readers. I can very easily envision a Tim Burton film adaptation of this book. I think he could capture the slight creepiness of having a dog made of bones, and the scary prejudice of Sally's neighbors, while keeping the story as light and endearing as the book.

School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—In this mildly macabre yet decidedly entertaining girl-meets-dog story, 11-year-old Sally Simplesmith is mourning the recent loss of her mother and facing life as a social pariah when she calls on her mother's spirit to "Give. Me. Death." Instead, a little skeleton dog with floppy ears and a tongue appears at her side in the graveyard. For a lonely outcast like Sally, lovable Bones is both a cuddly pet and a needed friend, not to mention the perfect antidote to the misery caused by her obnoxious nemesis, the very popular and very vile Viola Vanderperfect. Sally's absent-minded father is well meaning but still dealing with his grief, and his reaction to Bones is more scientific than empathetic. Fortunately, having a "cadaverous canine" for a pet gives Sally's status at Merryland Middle School a needed boost, and for the first time she feels accepted and even liked. But when someone or something starts stealing bones from the neighborhood dogs, all evidence points to Sally's beloved pup, leaving her to figure out the real culprit or lose her pet forever. With its black-and-white illustrations, fast-paced text, whodunit plot, and spot-on depiction of fickle middle-school friendships, this book is sure to appeal to those not yet ready for truly dark fiction.—Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402259449
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 1,143,748
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

MacKenzie Cadenhead
MacKenzie Cadenhead's love of radioactive spiders, Kevin Henkes, zombies and her puppy/muse, Smudge, naturally inspired her to become a children's book writer. She lives in Westchester, NY, surrounded by a slew of oak trees just waiting to be hit by lightning and bring a lovable skeleton dog back to life.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

2 Months, 28 Days, 9 Hours, and 12 Minutes Earlier...

The morning before Sally Simplesmith came face-to-face with death, she made the acquaintance of pure evil. Leaning awkwardly against the gate of the Vanderperfect Estate, Sally chewed on her fingernails, trying desperately not to get too excited about the impending arrival of the only friend she had ever had.
Sally was not a popular girl. To suggest that she had few friends would be untrue. To say that she had none would be more technically correct. For one thing, Sally looked nothing like the other girls at Merryland Middle School. With her blunt-bobbed hair, black as a starless night, and her chalky white skin, Sally clashed with the rosy blonds and olive-toned brunettes that surrounded her. While they preferred coordinated sweater sets and perfectly tailored dresses, Sally found satisfaction in worn-in blue jeans and a rotation of concert T-shirts featuring her favorite band, Tone Death.
"Dead Ringers? " Chati Chattercathy once asked about the text of a particularly distressing T-shirt. It featured an image of identical twin girls hitting each other with their cell phones. "I think your shirt might be a bit too aggressive for acceptable school attire, don't you?" the almond-eyed beauty kindly offered. "Also, I don't get it."
Encouraged by her classmate's interest, Sally explained: "Oh no, it's okay. It's a Tone Death song that's less about violence than it is about how our obsession with technology has turned us against ourselves."
"Huh?" Chati made a face as though she had just smelled her brother's dirty gym socks.
Sally searched for a bit of Tone Death trivia that might impress. "Also, their lead guitarist uses a special kind of makeup to look like a corpse!"
Chati took two slow steps back before turning and walking quickly away. She never asked about one of Sally's T-shirts again.
"May I help you?" a nasal voice blared through the Vanderperfects' intercom.
Sally slipped from her post against the gate. Tucking her hair behind her ears, she cleared her throat. "Oh, um. I'm waiting for Viola, please. I'm Sally. Sally Simple-"
"Miss Vanderperfect will be out presently." The intercom clicked off, and Sally resumed biting her nails.
Viola Vanderperfect had been Sally's best friend when they were babies. They were born on the same day, and the girls' mothers met in the maternity ward when a nearsighted nurse accidentally switched the bassinets. Choosing laughter over lawsuit, the Vanderperfects and Simplesmiths became fast friends. For the two years that followed, their daughters were almost never apart.
When the Vanderperfects moved from the sleepy town of Merryland to seek their fortune in the hustle and bustle of Watta City, the families promised to visit often. But when Sally's mother became ill, that promise grew difficult to keep. By the time Mrs. Simplesmith died, eight years had passed without a single visit. Aside from the occasional birthday card and coupon books for their wildly successful chain of nursery-rhyme-themed restaurants, the Vanderperfects fell out of touch.
None of this was more than a distant memory to Sally until two weeks ago, when her father received a letter with a Watta City return address.
"Oh, hey, kiddo. I almost forgot to tell you," Mr. Simplesmith said as he rushed off to the research lab where he all but slept. "The Vanderperfects are moving back here at the end of the month. Remember your friend Viola? Looks like she'll be joining your class. See you around, Sal!"
Had Mr. Simplesmith not been so consumed with balancing his coffee cup on a stack of papers while acrobatically closing the door with his right elbow, he might have noticed his daughter frozen in place, the spoonful of cereal dripping milk as it approached her gaping mouth.
Within moments of regaining movement, Sally had written and mailed a letter to Viola reintroducing herself and offering to accompany her long-lost friend to her first day of school. A week later a reply arrived from Mrs. Vanderperfect with directions to their new home and an invitation to come early to join Viola on her morning dog walk.
Now that the reunion was finally here, Sally's boldness gave way to alarm. Would Viola indeed be the death-rock-loving kindred spirit of whom Sally had dreamed? A strong gust of expensive perfume snapped her back to the present, where a perfectly manicured woman with arms raised in a wide V came running down the estate's long drive.
"Sally, Sally, Sally!" Vivienne Vanderperfect burst through the gate and blew two air kisses at the wide-eyed child. "So, this is what you grew up to be." Mrs. Vanderperfect's smile faded slightly. "How...unique."
Sally bit her lip.
"I'm sorry, I just assumed you'd be more like your mother. The way that woman could command a room just by entering it." Vivienne gazed into the bright blue sky. "She was the toast of Merryland without making the slightest effort. She was such...an inspiration." Glancing back at Sally, she added, "Ah, but you do have her eyes."
Sally blushed. "Thank you, Mrs.-"
"Oh, now, darling, call me Vivienne. Viola's just grabbing Princess Poopsy Von Vanderpoodle's leash, and then I'll let you two be off!" Vivienne looked Sally over before ultimately nodding her head in approval. "Yes, I can tell my Vi will have a powerful effect on you, Sally. And you can be there for her. Just like I was for your mother."
Vivienne's eyes teared, and Sally pinched her own skin to stop from breaking down. Despite her obvious reservations about Sally's appearance, Mrs. Vanderperfect's determination to reach out to her dead friend's daughter suited Sally just fine. It was Viola she was here for, anyway; the friend she had waited for all her life.
One last time, Sally called up the picture of Viola she had been perfecting all week. In it, Viola wore a dog-collar necklace that complemented Sally's T-shirt of Tone Death's latest album: You Can't Put Me in the Doghouse-I Already Live There. In Sally's imagination, Viola already had three piercings in her left ear, including one up at the top, in the exact spot Sally's father refused to consider until his daughter turned eighteen. In her mind, Viola was everything Sally was not quite, but that she could surely become, with a little help from an old friend.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2012

    Breanna

    Ur touch is so good* frenches u deeply and grabs ur azz*

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012

    Liked it

    Fun, sweet, and intertaining. I think most jr high age kids would enjoy this book. The other reviews tell morestory. I just want to say that i recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Dark & Delightful - Middle Graders Will Love Bones!

    It's really hard not to love a cute little dog. It's even really hard not to love a cute little dog when that dog happens to be a skeleton, as Bones is. But I loved him just as much as Sally Simplesmith comes to love him and it's because author MacKenzie Cadenhead makes him incredibly loveable. Middle grade readers will adore Sally's precocious new pet and will be eager to see justice for pooch.

    Sally's Bones is a little darker than some MG books because it focuses on a dead pooch that appears after Sally begs her mother's gravesite for her own death. Sally's a lonely, isolated girl who misses her mother more than anything else and even if readers can't relate to that precise feeling, they'll be able to empathize and understand Sally's emotions.

    Sally's story is more complicated than just having a dead dog. There's Viola Vanderperfect - Sally's once friend and now middle-school dominating nemesis, some threatening letters, and a dog catcher that's determined to pull Bones apart and give his bits and pieces to the neighborhood dogs that are missing their favorite meatless treats. So life for Sally goes from boring and mundane to extraordinary, all in the blink of an eye.

    All in all, Sally's Bones is an entertaining and delightful book that will keep readers guessing with the mystery and keep them glued to the pages by Sally and Bones' friendship. There's love, family, and a lot of whodunit. Readers of all ages will enjoy this slightly morbid tale and come to care for the skeletal pup and the girl who loves him regardless.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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