The Rough Patch

The Rough Patch
Illustrated and Written by Brian Lies

Publisher’s Summary:
Evan and his dog do everything together, from eating ice cream to caring for their prize-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 prickly weeds and thorns, and Evan embraces the chaos.

But beauty grows in the darkest of places, and when a twisting vine turns into an immense pumpkin, Evan is drawn out of his isolation and back to the county fair, where friendships–old and new–await.

Primary Source Pairing:
The grief experienced by the loss of someone dear to you is hard to explain, contain, or categorize. The Rough Patch shows the painful reality of what this grief feels like in each page. Through time and healing though, the grief can subside and happiness awaits – sometimes in the form of a new puppy with floppy ears. For this primary source pairing, invite students to use a feelings chart created by Ellie Peters to identify the feelings Evan has throughout the book. How do Evan’s feelings change? Why? Encourage students to use visual and textual evidence to support their identification of Evan’s feelings.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • What people and objects are shown?
  • How are they arranged?
  • What feelings on the chart have you experienced?
  • While reading the book, think about how Evan is feeling. Think of a time you have felt the same way as Evan.

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Feelings Chart: Ellie Peters, creator, linked on Pinterest