Poised to give up the ghost, a lonely little girl finds a reason to live when she discovers a canine crony with a graveyard past.
With her “blunt-bobbed hair,” “chalky white skin” and Tone Death concert T-shirts, Sally Simplesmith doesn’t fit in with her pretty-in-pink sixth-grade Merryland Middle School classmates. After ultra-popular Viola Vanderperfect deliberately excludes her from everything, outcast Sally feels, well, “cast out.” Lying on her mother’s grave, Sally desperately longs for death. Instead, she gets Bones, a “bright-smiling, tail-wagging skeleton dog,” sent by her departed mother’s spirit. Bones becomes Sally’s best friend and savior. Her kind, but detached, father warns Sally to keep the “petrified pooch” a secret, but soon the “cadaverous canine” is exposed, and the “former social leper and her imperishable pet” become “overnight sensations.” When all neighborhood dog bones vanish, the D.C. (Dog Catcher) suspects Bones, forcing Sally to take drastic measures to exonerate him and uncover the real culprit. Could it be villainous Viola? Heavily tongue-in-cheek tombstone talk, snappy text, over-the-top melodrama plus a sympathetic heroine equal one hilarious read. Black-and-white spot art highlights skeletal Bones’ corporeal personality.A silly, deliberately histrionic but surprisingly suspenseful preteen tale of despair, deception and redemption with a canine character straight out of a Tim Burton flick. (Melodrama. 9-12)