Book: Abby
Author: Wolfram Hanel
Illustrator: Alan Marks
Publisher: North-South Books, republished in 1998
ISBN-13: 978-1558586482 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1558586482 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-1558589087 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1558589082 (Paperback)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 6-7 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
Disclosure: Any books donated for review purposes are in turn donated to a library. No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.
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Hanel, Wolfram. Abby (published 1996 by North-South / Night Sky Books). Moira and her family live on a small island off the Irish coast. Abby is Moira’s dog and her best friend. Abby looks after the goats and keeps the cats out of the house. Together they watch clouds, sit on the cliffs above the beach, and wave when fishing boats pass by. One day when Moira returns from school, Abby is nowhere to be found. When the dog is carried home by a neighbor, Moira learns that the pup has eaten some poisoned meat set out by a neighboring farmer for some foxes and is gravely ill. As night falls, the grown-ups shake their heads over the motionless dog, thinking that she will never recover, but Moira stays up all night with Abby, telling her stories and stroking her. The child eventually falls asleep. What will happen to the dog?

Author Wolfram Hanel was born in Fulda, Germany. The book was translated by Rosemary Lanning. Hanel’s text and the sensitive illustrations Alan Marks, who began to illustrate children’s books in 1984, both depict the island beautifully with hardworking and friendly people. Marks’s pen-and-ink line paintings with fluid watercolor washes portray Moira’s many emotions. Moira’s love for her dog is pure and understandable to anyone who has ever had a pet. The simple story is so effective that readers will likely shed a few tears. The place, characters, and emotions all ring true. It is an excellent book to use in teaching children about death, dying, and the grieving process. Somewhere, I thought that I had heard that this heartwarming and charming book about the love and friendship between a little girl and her dog was based on a true story, but I have not been able to confirm that.

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