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The Rough Patch

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  2,579 ratings  ·  753 reviews
Evan and his dog do everything together, from eating ice cream to caring for their award-winning garden, which grows big and beautiful. One day the unthinkable happens: Evan’s dog dies. Heartbroken, Evan destroys the garden and everything in it. The ground becomes overgrown with prickles and thorns, and Evan embraces the chaos.

But beauty grows in the darkest of places, and
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published August 14th 2018 by Greenwillow Books
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Average rating 4.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,579 ratings  ·  753 reviews

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I LOVE this Book. This book is amazing.

I know Caldecott is about the artwork and not as much the story, but I’ve read all the books for this year and this is the best book of the year, in my opinion. It should have won. It’s one of my all time favorite books.

I can’t believe how simple and easy and straight forward this is. This is a healing journey. This book touched me deeply. I recognize this journey as I have had to take it. I do want to talk about the plot. You really need to read the book,
Tina Haigler
Nov 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids
This is a really nice book that deals with different stages of grief. It's not overly sad and it's really easy for kids to understand. I really like that it doesn't get too complicated or preachy, and it shows the passing of time, instead of instantly replacing what was lost. The artwork was charming and colorful, which was lovely. Lastly I'd like to point out that I've seen some negative reviews, simply because the main character is anthropomorphic and has a pet. I mean honestly, if you don't l ...more
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children
A beautiful story of love, loss, recovery, and new beginnings.
I just loved this children's book and the bright and colorful illustrations.
Tj Shay
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As another reviewer stated, this book will break your heart and mend it right back up again (Thanks, Aliza) After reading this book to some of my third graders, we had a great conversation about the need for sad picture books. They overwhelming thought there was a great need for books that delve into emotional topics. One boy said that if you hadn't lost someone that you loved, that a book could help you learn how to cope with it. If you had, it would help you get through it. I think that's so i ...more
While author/illustrator Brian Lies certainly does on the surface tell a very much poignant story of loss and the stages through which one often must go whilst dealing with this (from sadness to anger and finally to acceptance and starting again to appreciate life, and in The Rough Patch, for Fox to once again also consider a new pet dog), and albeit that I consider the accompanying illustrations adept and lushly rendered (and can therefore also understand the Caldecott Honour destination for Th ...more
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I fell in love with this short picture book that celebrates gardening, respects grief and has just delightful pictures. The fox's gardening boot with the holes for his claws just charmed me to tears. ...more
Jan 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Readers Looking for Children's Stories About Loss & the Grieving Process
Evan and his dog did everything together, from listening to music to playing. Most of all, they liked to work in Evan's lovely garden. When his canine companion died, the fox withdrew from all of his usual activities, eventually destroying his garden in his anger at the universe. As weeds grew high and poisonous plants invaded, he encouraged everything dark and destructive to grow. Until, that is, a pumpkin began to grow, setting in motion a series of events that would reintroduce Evan to his ot ...more
Jan 09, 2022 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
**I would recommend reading this book before reading it to your children.
Evan, our poor fox suffers a terrible loss; his best friend. Evan's grief gets the better of him for awhile. But something wonderful begins to happen and Evan remembers... Inspired, he returns to the world he once knew. This book is about grief in a very real way. He is sad, and he and his garden reflect this sadness. But Evan, and his garden, reflect courage, resilience, and most importantly, Love.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cybils, picture-book
Evan and his dog do everything together. They especially love to garden together. Then his dog dies. Evan is sad and angry and lets his garden go. Among the weeds grows a pumpkin and that pumpkin helps Evan toward healing. A story about loss and recovery, with vivid illustrations.
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I recently lost the best animal friend I've ever had and, after what seemed like a too-short period of grieving, adopted another pet. This book perfectly articulates the anger, the bizarre-feeling of living in the world when your friend isn't around, and the resignation to care for another one, almost without thinking about it. God, this was so lovely and made me sob in such a deep, true way. ...more
Oh sure, just rip my heart out. I didn’t need it anyway. :(

The ending made me feel better.
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Be prepared. The title is The Rough Patch, after all. Lies’ story follows a familiar path (“uh oh, wh-wh-what's going to happen to the dog?), but it goes deeper. The emotions are raw, but never maudlin. The illustrations are significant*, telling the story eloquently and rewarding close and repeated viewing. So, while you might find the rough patches challenging, stick with the book. It ends in a good place.

*In fact, IMO The Rough Patch should be on a short list for The Caldecott Award, the cri
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh man...the tears! Exquisite picture book depicting the grief that comes from losing a pet. And the fox's name is Evan!! ...more
Chance Lee
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-it
Great googly-moogly, this book knocked me on my ass. Beautiful art accompanies a beautiful, mature story of loss, grief, and recovery. I cried at the end.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
GAHHHHHH!!!!! Heartbreaking and beautiful.
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing

This is a book I needed even as a 20 year old. I just lost my cat a few weeks ago, and this book was fitting for me. It shows how we act when we are grieving the death of someone we love, and beautiful but sad symbolism at the state of his garden as he goes through it... and that once we heal more, we can once again create, grow, and love. Incredibly touching for anyone who gets a chance to read it.

Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: death, animals, dogs, grief
We all have or will have times in our life when we will go through a rough patch, especially after the death of a loved one and this book shows that it is okay to do so. It is okay to hold up in your house, it is okay to destroy the reminders if that's what helps you. But this book also shows us that life will also be okay to live again. That life will find away to grow in the weeds, that light will shine in the dark and that one day while things are not the same and will never be exactly as it ...more
Alexandra Calaway
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing

What a great book. Grief is something that should and ultimately must be honored, one way or another. There is no time limit on it. It doesn't matter who you lose or how long you've known and loved them. It doesn't even matter if it's a pet.

Sit with your grief. Let it grow around you. Tend to it carefully, even though it is prickly and bad-smelling and not nice to look at.

It will never be the same, but good things will grow again.
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful children's book - deals with emotions and losing someone ...more
Phoebe Ledster
Unexpectedly losing something close to you can launch you into a turbulent and dark journey, which can often be overshadowed with sadness with it looking and feeling as if there is no hope to be found. Lies explores this tremendously well in 'The Rough Patch' never underestimating the emotional intelligence and ability of the reader. Evan, an anthropomorphic fox who loves to garden, falls into a cruel darkness when his best friend, a dog, sadly passes away. The sudden harshness of the breathtaki ...more
Jan Polep
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bittersweet picture book for the preschool - 3 crowd about love, loss, and moving on. Evan does everything with his dog and is completely devastated when he dies. He rips up the garden in one of his miserable moments only to find a reason to leave some of his grief behind and discover hope at the County Fair. Great book for some great discussions. Just have a k.leenex handy
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh me oh my. This wonderful book explores the feelings one has when faced with losing someone you love.
R. G. Nairam
I can't take animals who own animals as pets seriously. ...more
Sep 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Evan and his dog did everything. When the dog dies, Evan becomes embittered as a result of his grief, withdrawing from society and neglecting things which formerly interested him. Then he allowed a pumpkin to grow, and Evan's life changes. Cute book, but the illustrations are not as endearing as I'd expect in a Caldecott honor book. ...more
I was not prepared for this book. Our dog died almost two years ago, and Evan's journey in this children's book was very close to our own -- including the hopeful bit at the end. A beautiful, subtle book about loss, grief, and recovery. ...more
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 out of 5

Brian Lies' picturebook about the loss and the process of grief is both heartbreaking and heartwarming, simple yet extremely moving.

Ten pages in I almost bawled my eyes out, and once again at the end of the book. How many books can do that in just 40 pages?

Illustrations are simply gorgeous: the attention to details, the use of light, the emotions. THE EMOTIONS. And the last page turn is priceless.

However, I did find it a bit weird that the main character, a fox, keeps a dog as a pet.
Cheryl struggles to catch up
This turned me (and my inner child) off right off the bat with the fox wearing clothes and being a companion to a dog. Just, no. I think the rest of the story's ok, but I just couldn't appreciate it given that character choice. ...more
Update - Full Review on Blog: https://bookishrealmreviews.blogspot....

Oh goodness, I thought from the cover that it was just going to be about having a bad day, but I was so wrong. This is a picture that handles the emotions behind death very well. I think a lot of times we tell children that when we have loved ones (whether human or animal) that die that we will always feel sad. We rarely address the fact that there is a possibility that an individual will feel anger. And we don't teach that fe

First sentence: Evan and his dog did everything together.

Premise/plot: Evan and his dog do everything together...until they don't. After Evan's dog dies, Evan enters a ROUGH PATCH. Will Evan ever want to live again? Will Evan ever be happy again?

My thoughts: The Rough Patch received a Caldecott Honor in 2019. I do like the illustrations. I'm not sure I loved, loved, loved the illustrations, but I definitely liked them. But do I like the story? Honestly I'm not sure that I do. Perhaps that says m
Ms. B
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: honor, picture, 2018
I loved this story about Evan and his dog. When Evan's dog passes away, how does he cope? Find out in this story. Anyone who has lost a beloved pet will appreciate this one.
I read this as a possible Caldecott contender. Its strength lies in its relatability for all ages. Kind of like a modern day Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs.
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I was born in 1963 in Princeton, New Jersey, which back then was a quiet college town, surrounded by old farmland slowly giving way to housing developments. I spent a lot of time building dams and forts in the woods across the street with my best friend, inventing things, and writing and drawing with my older sister. At various times during my childhood, we had newts, gerbils and rabbits as pets. ...more

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