A boy without a dogand a dog without an ownerfind each other in this powerful moving story of loneliness and redemption.
Publishers WeeklyBlumenthal’s dog-and-boy story may be too sad for some, but her lyrical prose and Gustavson’s (Mind Your Manners, Alice Roosevelt!) lush paintings have the impact of a documentary film. The Blue House Dog, a stray German shepherd mix, has been left homeless after his owner dies, while the death of the boy narrator’s old dog has left him bereft. Blumenthal (Charlie Hits It Big) observes the boy as he works to approach and tame the stray, paying close attention to physical sensations (“He lets me run my hand/ lightly over his fur./ It’s the same color as my hair”) and crafting affecting prose-poetic lines (“he scrunched down/ under a building,/ waiting like a soldier/ hiding from the enemy”). Gustavson’s paintings capture the big dog’s skittishness and the boy’s protective instincts. Scenes of autumn leaves and spring flowers reinforce the sense that the intimacy between the two takes months to develop. The emotions are raw and authentic, while the way in which they’re delivered is elegant--a potent combination. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Deanna D'AntonioIn rich and detailed oil colors, The Blue House Dog captures the heartache of loss and the uncertainty of opening oneself up to the prospects of caring and trusting again. Through the eyes of Cody, the narrator, an adolescent boy, and the brown and blue mismatched eyes of Bones, a suddenly-abandoned dog, Blumenthal creates a poignant and touching tale of heartbreak and redemption. Cody has lost his best friend, Teddyfurry, wet-nosed sharer of secrets and late-night blanket tents. Bones has lost his owner and home and now scurries from shadow to shadow, evading the dog catcher while pawing through garbage for scraps. Though the neighborhood pronounces Bones just a strayand not a special one at thatCody begins to think otherwise. Over time, he works at overcoming his sadness upon losing Teddy, and gaining the trust of the equally hurting Bones. Young readers, especially those who have suffered the loss of a pet, will immediately feel for both characters. Blumenthal's prose is soft and lyrical, striking exactly the right mood needed to evoke sympathy and emotion, without being so somber as to create tears or undue worry in very sensitive children. Matched by equally soft, yet evocative pictures that deftly capture the tentative emotions involved, The Blue Hose Dog allows children both young and old to identify with difficult issues such as death, loneliness, uncertainty, risk and even the plight and specter of homelessness without being too heavy or abstruse. It would make an excellent addition to any children's library, perfect for broaching sad topics or just for cuddling together during a rainy day read. Reviewer: Deanna D'Antonio
School Library JournalGr 1–4—A boy mourning the death of his dog watches a neighborhood stray whose blue house was torn down. Everyone says the skinny dog that Cody calls Bones is nothing special, but first-person free verse and oil paintings indicate that he will help the child heal. Although the dog still cries softly when he passes the site of the old blue house "where the old man stopped living," Bones trusts Cody. He stays in the boy's house a little longer each day, takes walks with Cody, and eventually accepts a new name, Blue, and a blue bandana to wear around his neck. As the physical distance between boy and dog closes, the realistic illustrations gradually include more light and brighter colors. This gentle story may help pet owners following a loss and also illuminates the caring qualities that lead to trust, healing, and friendship.—Julie R. Ranelli, Queen Anne's County Free Library, Stevensville, MD
Kirkus ReviewsAn unnamed boy of about ten describes a shy, homeless dog from his neighborhood that eventually becomes the boy's new pet. The dog, a German shepherd mix with one blue eye and one brown eye, was originally owned by an elderly neighbor who lived in a blue house. After the man's death, related bluntly in the text, the dog hangs around the neighborhood, afraid of anyone who tries to help. The boy, who lost his own dog to an unspecified illness, patiently offers food and affection to the dog, who gradually accepts the boy as his new owner. The free-verse, first-person narration is detached, conveying with subtle understatement that both boy and dog are lost and lonely characters. Gustavson's sensitively constructed oil paintings communicate the anxious fear of the stray dog as well as the boy's earnest attempts to help. Though it doesn't break any new ground, dog lovers will enjoy the story of this helpful boy and his newfound canine companion. (Picture book. 6-8)
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The The Blue House Dog based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Love heals the heart is the message of this heartwarming tale of a boy who saves a lost dog and vice versa. Cody had his own dog once but his painful loss is buried deeper than the feeding dish Cody hides away in his closet. Until Cody meets a four-footed friend needier than he is -- a sad, lost dog from a mysterious blue house. Both learn to trust and love again. I was gripped by this touching story. And the beautiful illustrations give extra power to Blumenthal's words.