The Longest Letsgoboy

by Derick Wilder (Author) Catia Chien (Illustrator)

The Longest Letsgoboy
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey meets Dog Heaven in this profoundly beautiful book about the special relationship between kids and dogs, the importance of language, and finding the meaning of life even in its final days. Poignant, hopeful, and lovingly told, this dog's journey--told by the dog himself in his own unique words--proves that love abides beyond a lifetime, out of sight but never far away. As a dog and his little girl go on their final walk together, he experiences the sights, smells, and wonders of this world one last time before peacefully passing on. But for such a good boy (oh yes, he is!) and his foreverfriend, that doesn't mean it's the end. Offering a unique and noteworthy take on death, this book balances the somber topic with a dog's ever-optimistic viewpoint, all woven together with its unconventional yet fitting approach to language. Family members, librarians, art-lovers, and educators alike will use this book as an accessible and comforting introduction to the ever-difficult topic of death, discussed and related in a new way with hopeful, uplifting, innovative language.

  • THE PERFECT BOOK TO TALK ABOUT LOSS: The perennial themes of grief, fear, and death are always relevant and classic discussion topics even in families not yet dealing with death. The perfect answer to kids' big questions about what happens when we die, this book will be a standard in every home library.
  • CREATIVE USE OF LANGUAGE: The words in this book are incredibly special, with phrases that conjure how the dog sees the world. The enjoyable challenge of matching up letsgoboy to a walk or pufftails to rabbits will make for meaningful discussions on a parent's lap or in a classroom reading circle.
  • TEACHES CHILDREN EMPATHY: Reading this story from the dog's perspective is the perfect way for young readers to understand that the way another character thinks and perceives the world is different from their own experience.
  • A BEAUTIFUL DOG STORY: Ideal for readers who love dogs, want dogs, or are going through a grieving process for their family dog, this book celebrates all that is most magical about these animals who are always by our side. A COMFORTING MESSAGE: It's rare for a book about death to extend beyond the moment of dying. The continuation of the dog's story past this point makes it special and especially comforting. Perfect for: parents and caregivers, dog lovers, educators
Select format:

Publishers Weekly

Via a first-person narration, debut author Wilder writes about an old dog's final walk with beloved child "Little," employing an invented language that allows readers to see things as the dog does. Moody mixed-media spreads by Chien (The Bear and the Moon) capture the lines sagging under the dog's eyes and the white that grizzles its snout. Calling, "Letsgoboy!" brown-skinned Little greets the hound with a hug around the neck: "Her paws crunchcrunch across diggie-dirt, and waybacks fill my head." An aerial view shows scenes from the dog's puppyhood from a great height, underscoring their distance in time. The old hound knows its end is near; as "I wuffwuff farewell to tweeters, branchjumpers, and fuzzhoppers," it wants only for Little to be safe. When it's clear that "she will be okay, and I am ready," warm golds and celestial blues show butterflies springing from shafts of light that flow from its now-still form. As the seasons pass and another transition occurs in the family, a spread shows Little looking up and waving; her dog is watching over her. Though gentle humor lightens the story, it can't compensate for the loss shown in this moving testament to the love between child and dog. An affecting resource for starting conversations with readers experiencing their own loss. Ages 3-5. Author's agent: Jenna Pocius, Red Fox Literary. Illustrator's agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Stunning, tender, and brilliant. Readers will laugh and cry-but most of all love."-Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Derick Wilder
Derick Wilder is the author of The Longest Letsgoboy and the founder of Reading Giraffe, a literacy initiative with the goal of creating lifelong readers by making books come alive. He has been writing for as long as he can remember, and endless hours in the children's section of the library with his daughter sparked his love for picture books. He lives in Fort Mill, South Carolina.

K-Fai Steele is the author-illustrator of A Normal Pig and the illustrator of Noodlephant and other books for young readers. She was a Brown Handler Writer in Residence at the San Francisco Public Library, a recipient of the James Marshall Fellowship at the University of Connecticut, and a recipient of the Ezra Jack Keats/Kerlan Memorial Fellowship at the University of Minnesota. She was born in Charlton, Massachusetts, and now lives in Lausanne, Switzerland (which Richard Scarry also called home!).
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Chronicle Books
Publication date
October 20, 2021
BISAC categories
JUV029000 - Juvenile Fiction | Nature & the Natural World | General
JUV039030 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Death & Dying
JUV002070 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Dogs
Library of Congress categories
Human-animal relationships

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!