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Lois Rubin Gross (Children's Literature)
When a child loses a beloved pet, no words can take away the hurt, but this book may help to soothe the pain in the same way that Judith Viorst's The Tenth Good Thing About Barney helped an earlier generation of children. Mike and Jack are best friends. Mike is a boy and Jack is an eight year old golden retriever (fifty-six in dog years) acquired from an animal shelter for Mike's birthday. Mike and Jack are inseparable companions. They share walks, games, trick or treating (with Jack dressed in costume) and, best of all, summers at the seashore. As Jack gets older, the nature of the friends' play changes; Mike plays more independently and Jack, the good ol' dog, observes. Finally, Jack can no longer even walk and the family vet counsels loving the pet until the end. When Jack dies, Mike and his family bury him with ceremony and love and learn to deal with their loss before considering a replacement. Jack was, after all, unique. Disalvo-Ryan has written a sensitive book full of the joy of pet ownership which also answers the inevitable question, "Why did my dog have to die?" This book also addresses the changing nature of relationships as a pet (or a person) grows older. In that way, it brings to mind Wittman's A Special Trade. The afterword by veterinary Social Worker Kathleen Dunn is valuable; a practical guideline for helping a child deal with the progression of emotions that are the grief process. Since Jack dies naturally, the issue of animal euthanasia is not addressed, and that might have been an important addition not just for the child who loses a pet, but for the parent who accompanies the beloved friend on their last journey. This is a small omission in an excellent book about the love between a boy and his dog that subtly advocates for the adoption of older animals while it empathetically helps a child to close the circle of life. 1999, Holiday, $15.95. Ages 4 to 8.
S. Latson (Parent Council Volume 6)
This is a wonderful sensitive book about a family that adopts an older dog from an animal shelter. The story chronicles Jack's life as he ages, changes, and finally dies. The story and illustrations are warm and charming and provide an opportunity for families to talk about their feelings when a pet dies. 1999, Holiday House, $15.95. Ages 3 to 10.
Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
This realistic picture book about loving and losing a first pet will likely join the ranks of Judith Viorst's The Tenth Good Thing About Barney with its unsentimental, honest approach. "Jack was eight years old when our family adopted him from the animal shelter. That's fifty-six in dog years," begins narrator Mike, pictured in a stroller. As the boy grows older, he and Jack develop rituals--trick-or-treating with themed Halloween costumes (boy as shepherd, dog as sheep), Saturday games of hide-and-seek in the park and the simple joy of a shared ice cream cone ("I'd save the last licks for him," says Mike). They even celebrate the same birthday. Inevitably, when Mike turns eight, Jack turns 91 and can no longer partake of their annual traditions, yet the spreads continue to depict an unbreakable bond between the pair. Jack dies in the final pages, and a swirling portrait depicts mother, father and son in a sorrowful embrace that emits both sadness and comfort. In succeeding pages even nature mourns: leafless trees with outspread limbs curve over mother and son on a walk through the park ("Do people live longer than dogs?" asks the boy). The narration never strikes a false note; even on the last spread, when Mike spies a dog in the park, he harbors mixed emotions. DiSalvo-Ryan (Now We Can Have a Wedding!) captures the essence of the ineffable connection between a child and his pet in her artwork while remaining completely within the child's sensibility in her text. Ages 3-8. (Mar.)
|Language||Call Number||LCCN||Dewey Decimal||ISBN/ISSN|
|English (eng)||PZ7.D6224 Do 1999