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.
About the Author
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.
Read an Excerpt
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Overall, I thought Sally's Bones was a very sweet story. Sally is a young girl who is understandably very upset and sad after the death of her mother. She asks for help and she seems to get it - in the form of a skeleton puppy she names Bones. Bones would do anything for her and the two become inseparable. And of course, trouble soon follows.Have to say, for a middle grade (ages 9 ) book, I found the beginning of Sally's Bones a little harsh and dark. I know a few young readers who do not enjoy books involving death in any form and I wouldn't be able to recommend this one to them for that reason. However, at the heart of the story is a very sweet girl with a wonderful family who learns about the power of love. Even as a skeleton, it was hard not to see Bones as the supper cute puppy he is. Nothing creepy about him at all. Sally loves him so much and when the town and even Sally's father turn against him, Sally stops at nothing to clear his name.The villains in this story were pretty spot on - the rich, pretty, mean girl Viola and her jealous mother were perfect and I loved how things played out in the end. Not giving it away - read it for yourself!Sally's Bones, although perhaps a bit macabre, holds a loving message about family and I think young readers will really enjoy. As with most books for the younger crowd, I encourage you to read this one for yourself before passing it on but I think you'll enjoy it as much as the children in your life will. I know I'll be keeping my copy to pass on to my little one in a few years. MacKenzie has done an excellent job creating mystery and suspense with characters I dare you not to fall in love with. As a debut, Sally's Bones is wonderful and I'm sure to be on the lookout for more from MacKenzie in the future.