When I get a shipment notification message from our book vendor, I go to the office to see if it has arrived yet...and either bring it back or wait impatiently for it to arrive. We received two boxes on Wednesday, and the title I really wanted to read was on the top of the first box I opened. It was Marion Dane Bauer's new novel Little Dog, Lost. Three characters are each lost in a way, and each hopes for something. There is the title character, a dog named Buddy; her owner had to give her up due to a move. There is Mark, a boy living in the town to which Buddy comes; he has always wanted a dog. There is Mr. LaRue, the caretaker/owner of a large mansion in that town of Erthly; he lives a solitary, silent life.
Each character's story is told in verse. With a comfortable familiarity, Marion conversationally provides appropriate asides in which she directly addresses the reader:
"Do you know what 'scruff' means?
I'll tell you,
just in case you don't.
'Scruff' is another word for 'nape.'
You don't know 'nape' either?
How silly of me.
It means the back of the neck.
Yes, I know.
I could have said so.
But 'scruff' is such a satisfying word,
don't you think?"
Clearly a dog-lover and dog-owner, Marion describes dog characteristics and mannerisms with an accuracy that helps the reader see just what she has created for the characters.
Buddy, the little dog, finds herself alone in a strange town, and she howls: "Bark! Bark! Bark! A-wooooo-ooo-ooo! Bark! Bark! Awooo!" When Mark lies awake, thinking about the dog park he hopes to plan for his town of Erthly, he hears that howl, only it sounds to him like, "Mark, Mark! I need yoooo-ooo-oou!"
Whether a person wants a dog or a boy or a comfortable home or people's acceptance, all have longings, and that is clearly expressed.
"So much longing.
So many lives
It's what stories -
all our stories -
are made of.
And what is longing