Claudia Builds a Bridge for Bruno

Diana Duncan, illustrated by Gail Jacalan

Publisher: Partridge Pages: 32 Price: (paperback) $25.01 ISBN: 9781543768329 Reviewed: August, 2022 Author Website: Visit »

Spotlighting a girl and her rescue dog, Claudia Builds a Bridge for Bruno touches on the impact of isolation as well as the time and attention it takes to earn trust from another.

In this rhyming picture book, we meet Claudia. After years of Claudia asking for a dog, her parents finally agree. Claudia chooses a rescue dog, Bruno, who is “not cheerful or smiley,” believing she can change his outlook.

Claudia works diligently, taking him on walks, bringing him to play with her friends, and even reading to him. But suddenly, COVID-19 hits and the world shuts down. Claudia is sad and scared, unable to see her friends or go to school. Bruno notices, and to cheer her up he becomes more outwardly friendly and happy.

Then, on a trip to the beach, Claudia asks her father to build a bridge across a stream so Bruno can join her on an adventure. Bruno steps tentatively across the log, delivering the metaphor for their friendship.

One of few children’s books dealing with COVID-19, this story reminds readers of the quarantine’s early, dark days. Unfortunately, young readers might not fully remember 2020, while older readers might have moved on from picture books. Still, this could serve as a conversation starter for adults who want to help children open up about that period.

The story also teaches a larger lesson about building bridges, although the metaphor only appears toward the end and is not explained.

At times, the rhyming approach hinders the narrative, with slant rhymes such as “unsure/paw” and “appeared/scared” making it feel unpolished. The illustrations are a saving grace: colorful, professional, and full page, they connect readers to Claudia and Bruno in a satisfying way.

This picture book juggles a lot: dog adoption, COVID, trust issues, and a bridge-building metaphor. Although not all ground is covered thoroughly, children will enjoy the compelling illustrations and Claudia’s relationship with Bruno.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.

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