A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Violence & Scariness
A fight with burglars; a dog is cut with a knife. Caleb and Kate quarrel, and she grieves when he doesn't return.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this story is long and loving but has little action -- it is the emotional depth of love and longing that moves the plot.
Is It Any Good?
This departure from William Steig's more gentle and whimsical animal fables convinces readers this is a more straightforward story, about strictly human actions. It's a story Steig must feel deeply about, because he pulls no punches. The story connects anger with consequences of loss. The loss feels as hopeless as in Steig's Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, but the reasons for the separation are more mean than just a natural deluge, as in Abel's Island. Caleb leaves in anger and becomes a dog, but, even more poignantly, he witnesses Kate's sense of loss, her search, her grief.
As a children's writer, Steig is not about to shy away from unhappy things that happen in life as naturally as the magic that occurs. But this is a picture book for parents and children to read and discuss together. This is a morality tale that introduces perspective into a child's life: that anger and love, abandonment and faithfulness, are two faces of a picture that for many people remains a mystery.
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