Title: THE LONGEST LETSGOBOY
Author: Derick Wilder
Illustrator: Catia Chien
Publisher: San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, October 2021
Genre: Picture book
Audience Age: 3 to 8 years
Themes/Topics: dogs, dying, love, pets, hope
Mewmew wakes me, rumbledrumming my tummy.
I strrrrretch my oldbones.
Synopsis: This lovely, moving, heartfelt story tells of a much-loved old dog’s last day, from the dog’s perspective. The author, Derick Wilder, uses created words and phrases to enhance the feeling that this truly is the dog telling his story. The dog’s foreverfriend, Little, “holds out a tastytreat, letting me know I’m a gooddog, oh yes I am.”
When they go on a letsgoboy (a walk), he feels like an awwwpuppy again, but soon his oldbones tell him that he needs to pull back his pace. He slowly sniffs his way through the forest, saying goodbye to all the places, animals, smells, and sights that he has experienced with Little all his life. The reader can tell that he knows that the end of this wonderful life is near, but even so, there is hope that all will be well. The reader is not left desolate. The ending (which I will not give away) leaves you smiling through your tears.
And yes, there will be tears. Make sure you have tissues handy, and if you’re planning to read the book to your own Little or Littles, you might want to read it alone first. But please do read it with your Littles. It is such an amazing depiction of a pet’s love for his Little, and a Little’s love for her pet, that it must be shared. And the hope at the end is something that needs to be experienced.
Derick Wilder has written a winner. It will burrow its way into many hearts, bring back memories of awwwpuppies and mewmews of the past, inspire many joyful letsgoboys with goodboys and goodgirls, and leave wistful smiles on many faces.
Catia Chien’s soft smudgedreams of illustrations are perfect for this book.
I highly recommend it.
For Further Enrichment:
About the author: Derick Wilder has been a technology consultant, has volunteered at wildlife sanctuaries, and is an educator and the founder of several programs to enhance kids’ lives. THE LONGEST LETSGOBOY is his debut picture book, with two more picture books on the horizon – both very different from his debut. He is obviously versatile! You can read more about him, his books, and his initiatives on his website.
About the illustrator: Catia Chien has illustrated several picture books, comics and other pieces. Her work shows her versatility and her heart. A video on PBS News Hour’s “Brief But Spectacular” will take you into her world. You can see her work at her website.
Activities: This would be an excellent book to introduce a conversation (or conversations) about death and dying. It also lends itself to conversations about caring for aging pets – and by extrapolation, aging loved ones. The publisher’s website lists other conversations that this book could facilitate.
Availability: Keeping in mind the current supply chain issues in the world, this book should be fairly readily available, although you might have to be patient. It is worth the wait. Check with your local (or online) independent bookseller.