Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Tupelo Rides the Rails

Tupelo Rides the Rails

Melissa Sweet
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2008   ISBN: 978-0618717149

One day Tupelo’s owners drop her off on the side of the road and drive off. All Tupelo has is her toy, Mr. Bones, but she does not give up. “Everyone belongs somewhere” she resolutely says, and she goes off to find out where her place is.

Tupelo finds lots of wonderful places, but none of them have room for “a scrappy dog.” Then her nose leads her to a place where a group of dogs, the BONEHEADS (the Benevolent Order of Nature’s Exalted Hounds Ernest and Doggedly Sublime) are gathering for a special ceremony. The dogs explain that they are going to make a wish on Sirius, the Dog Star, and in return they will bury a bone as an “offering.” The other dogs all offer up their wishes to Sirius, but Tupelo has no bone to bury, so she cannot make a wish. Not knowing what else to do, Tupelo decides to follow the pack.

The dogs are fed by a hobo called Garbage Pail Tex, and then all of them, including Tupelo, get onto a train. When they get to Hoboken, Tex and his hobo pals set about finding homes for all the dogs. Many are just lost, and their owners are delighted to see them again. Others truly are homeless, but there are people who are happy to invite the dogs into their homes and lives.

Eventually Tupelo is the only dog left, and no one seems to want her. She is all alone again without the BONEHEADS, and without Tex.

In this delightful picture book, readers will meet a dog whose owners abandon her. They will also meet a charming pack of dogs and learn about several of the world’s most famous dog characters including the fictional Toto and the real life Balto. We can tell how Tupelo feels as she tries to find a home of her own, and we can appreciate the fact that Tupelo, like all dogs, needs someone to love and care for her.

Throughout the book, the charming text is perfectly paired with Melissa Sweet’s unique multimedia illustrations.