Book Review of Elf Dog and Owl Head
The Children’s Book Review
What to Expect: Family, pandemic, pets, magic, inclusion, and friendship.
M. T. Anderson is an award-winning writer for a reason, and Elf Dog and Owl Head does not disappoint.
Stuck at home with his annoying family because of the pandemic, Clay feels completely cut off from the rest of humanity. However, when he finds a mysterious white dog in the woods behind his house, a whole new world opens up to him – one that is also a bit cut off from humanity. For those who know how to find the way—or who have an elf-hound to guide them—the forest is a portal to hidden worlds, mysterious people, and fairy kingdoms.
Soon, Clay is spending every free minute with the elf-hound, and he’s made new friends—a boy with the head of an owl and a giant who’s been asleep for centuries. However, Clay is breaking a lot of rules – the Owl Heads don’t like humans coming to their village, and the People Under the Mountain want their elf-hound back. Will Clay’s new friendships be allowed to endure?
Set during the COVID-19 pandemic, the story injects a touch of magic and hope into a crisis that still feels real and present. Clay and his family are complex, engaging characters whose love-hate-mostly-love relationships will feel familiar to many readers still remembering the frustrations of lock-down and learning from home. Although the story draws on familiar fantasy elements, such as the wild hunt and the wicked dragon, many of the fantastical elements of the story feel fresh and new – especially the severe Owl Heads and their magic gardens. Junyi Wu’s iconic black-and-white sketches add an otherworldly touch with dreamlike snapshots of action.
Elf Dog and Owl Head is a wonderfully absorbing and uplifting story.
Buy the Book
About the Author
M. T. Anderson is the author of Feed, a National Book Award Finalist; the National Book Award winner The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party and Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves, which were both Michael L. Printz Honor Books; Symphony for the City of the Dead; Yvain: The Night of the Lion; Landscape with Invisible Hand; and many other books for children and young adults, including The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge, cocreated with Eugene Yelchin, which was a National Book Award Finalist. M. T. Anderson lives near Boston, Massachusetts.