2018 ALSC/ALA Notable Children’s Book
An Iowa Public Radio Best Book of 2017
K-Gr 2—This is a tale about a girl named Astrid and her big, shaggy, faithful white dog, Eli. It begins, “When Astrid came home from the hospital, Eli was there waiting. He was Astrid’s first friend.” Readers follow along as the girl and her dog play and grow together. But as Astrid matures, she notices that Eli cannot always keep up. When Astrid turns six, Eli starts to walk more slowly, which prompts the girl to make a bucket list of all the things they should do together before Eli gets too old. Astrid reuses a popcorn bucket she and Eli enjoyed together in the park for their literal and figurative bucket list. They check out dog books from the library, get special permission to go the movies (Lassie is on the marquee), and go to a restaurant for a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. “When their meals arrived, Astrid beamed.’This is what you deserve for being the best friend in the world!’ ” The deep bond between the two is apparent from both the words and visuals. The full-page, warm, pastel-colored illustrations perfectly match the text and make the book all the more wonderful. This is a story about making the best of and appreciating the (brief) time we have with our loved ones—in this case our pets, though the title easily applies to grandparents and other aging loved ones. VERDICT A sweet and moving selection about the bond between a girl and her aging dog that avoids veering into sappy or maudlin territory. Spoiler alert: the dog does NOT die in the end (THANK YOU!).—Megan Kilgallen, Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn – School Library Journal
“Who says bucket lists are just for humans? Not the Klise sisters, who gracefully trace a girl’s growing awareness of her dog’s impending death. Evocative acrylics amplify the matter-of-fact narrative, showing Astrid growing taller and more active as Eli slows down. …The Klises close with an image of girl and dog watching the sunset over the water, a moment that―like the book as a whole―is both emotionally restrained and full of feeling.“–Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Quirky and delightful on its surface, this poignant picture book opens the door to deeper considerations of eventual loss. A tender tension between the author’s ebullient text and her illustrator sister’s touching acrylic paintings―particularly the exquisite portrayals of the two protagonists―delicately suggests the inevitable without any overt occurrence. The framed photos on the living-room walls and the apparent subject matter of the pair’s library books (they’re all about dogs) communicate even more about the special relationship between a child and a dog, and the precious value of taking care of the ones you love.”–The Horn Book, starred review
“The full-page, warm, pastel-colored illustrations perfectly match the text and make the book all the more wonderful. This is a story about making the best of and appreciating the (brief) time we have with our loved ones―in this case our pets, though the title easily applies to grandparents and other aging loved ones. … A sweet and moving selection about the bond between a girl and her aging dog that avoids veering into sappy or maudlin territory. Spoiler alert: the dog does NOT die in the end (THANK YOU!).”–School Library Journal
About the Author
Kate Klise is the author of several picture books and novels, including Grounded and Homesick. She frequently collaborates with her sister, the illustrator M. Sarah Klise. Kate travels all over the country speaking to classrooms about her work. She lives in Norwood, Missouri.
M. Sarah Klise‘s illustrations have appeared in picture books and novels written by her sister, Kate Klise. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her family.