STARRED REVIEW
August 2018

Growing a new friendship

By Daphne de Marneffe

Evan, a bright orange anthropomorphic fox in gardening overalls, and his dog are constant companions. They enjoy many hobbies, but more than anything else, the best friends love to work together in Evan’s garden. One moment they are relishing their time outdoors in their lush garden space; the next, Evan’s dog has passed away. Evan is devastated.

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BookPage Children's Top Pick, August 2018

Evan, a bright orange anthropomorphic fox in gardening overalls, and his dog are constant companions. They enjoy many hobbies, but more than anything else, the best friends love to work together in Evan’s garden. One moment they are relishing their time outdoors in their lush garden space; the next, Evan’s dog has passed away. Evan is devastated.

With his best friend gone and grief at the wheel, Evan loses his passion for gardening. In fact, he destroys his plants and tears angrily at the ground with a hoe. Weeds soon take over, but this is fine with Evan, as he wants the barren earth to reflect how he feels inside. But when a pumpkin begins to grow in his yard—despite all the weeds—Evan’s heart expands, and he begins to carefully tend to it. When Evan’s pumpkin grows large and wins third place at the county fair, he turns down the grand prize—a free puppy. But after bravely taking a peek inside the pen, he’s soon driving home with a new furry friend.

With tender restraint (the dog’s death is handled well, with merely six words and a poignant, but not graphic, image), author and illustrator Brian Lies has crafted a deeply felt story of new hope and healing after loss, one that altogether avoids excessive sentimentality. The pacing is flawless, and the emotions are never forced. Lies’ eloquently rendered illustrations play with light and shadow on full-bleed spreads that invite readers into Evan’s grief and his eventual journey from sorrow to newfound happiness.

Understated yet powerful, The Rough Patch is a story that stays with you.

 

This article was originally published in the August 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Rough Patch

The Rough Patch

By Daphne de Marneffe
Scribner
ISBN 9781501118913

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