A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Most of the humans in this story are musicians, and Oz learns to sing along with everything from classical tunes ("Ode to Joy" is his first singalong) to movie themes and ad jingles. Readers learn that "Oz" is a nickname for Australia. The story may also be a shocking eye-opener about the bad things humans do to animals, including puppies.
Strong messages about love, kindness, patience, forgiveness, wisdom -- and how it's really stupid and destructive to think that if you punish yourself enough, the bad things in your life will miraculously fix themselves.
Positive Role Models
There are some rotten humans in this tale, some who are cruel and uncaring to animals and others who are very careless with those who love them. With a lot of help and kindness from people along the way, Oz rises from the ruins of his early life to love and trust again, and after Patrick does a big wrong thing after a whole lot of right ones, forgives, because, as Patrick's mom says, "he's a dog." Patrick's mother, who's dealing with a lot herself, works hard to be there and provide needed support for Patrick, showing wisdom, kindness, moments of brilliant insight, and eventually the willingness to say enough of this nonsense, on several fronts. Patrick's grandfather, a music teacher, is fond and insightful. Zane, the hippie-looking guy at the animal rescue, goes the extra mile to support both dogs and humans.
Violence & Scariness
Oz the dog suffers physical abuse and abandonment in a garbage dump at the hands of bad people before Patrick takes him in. Patrick, meanwhile, is suffering emotional trauma because of a father who seems to never be coming home, and commits a terrible betrayal as a result.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Patrick's family-ditching father who's run off with his new girlfriend is at the root of much of the trouble here.
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Products & Purchases
Scene-setting mentions of places like Costco.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Dog Who Lost His Bark, by Irish author Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl) and illustrated by P.J. Lynch, is a sweet, profound affirmation of the love between a boy and his dog that goes to some pretty dark places that may be too intense for some sensitive readers. Bad people are careless and cruel to a young puppy, and a kid's absent father seems pretty determined to stay that way. Against all this, young Patrick, his mom, and his grandfather show a lot of heart, wisdom, patience, and creativity in helping puppy Oz learn to trust and enjoy life -- often through the healing power of music. Love wins in this story and its heart-grabbing drawings, but it sometimes takes a rocky, relatable road getting there.
Is It Any Good?
Eoin Colfer spins a perfect boy-dog tale that will keep readers on the edge of their seats (and grabbing the occasional Kleenex) as an abused puppy learns to trust his new, loving family. The boy Patrick, his mom, and granddad are all dealing with their own worries, but determined to help The Dog Who Lost His Bark find his courage again.
Th story is often emotionally harrowing, particularly describing the all-too-relatable abuse and abandonment of a young puppy who's trying to do the right thing, or a kid wondering why his father seems to be avoiding coming home. Ever. The power of love turns out to be strong, even when bad things happen and people do stupid things.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.