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This unusual look at a beloved pet’s death may be helpful to some families.

First published in the Netherlands, this story deals with the death of a large, black dog named Scout and how the three children in Scout’s family experience and ultimately accept her death.

An older brother and sister narrate the story, patiently reassuring their little brother and answering his questions when they can. The text describes the dog’s death, as the children witness Scout’s last breath while she rests in her bed. The little brother asks poignant questions about Scout and what she might be doing in heaven, and the older siblings reassure him that their dog is now happy and cared for. Heaven is presented as a happy place in the clouds, although God is not mentioned. A hopeful ending has the children convinced they can hear Scout barking “straight from the clear blue heavens,” shown in a cheery illustration in which multiple dogs play among the clouds. The illustrations are in a primitive style using black backgrounds with simple line drawings in white chalk lines, so it’s hard to determine the children’s race or ethnicity. Two illustrations in particular demonstrate a direct view of death, one with the children carrying the dog in a blanket to bury her and another with the dog in rigor mortis with her paws sticking up in the air. The black backgrounds gradually shrink into decreasingly small black silhouettes of the dog against colored backgrounds; some of these silhouettes may strike child readers as rather scary. The book has a small trim, and the tiny, often low-contrast type can be hard to read.

This unusual look at a beloved pet’s death may be helpful to some families. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5500-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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From the Elephant & Piggie series

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further.

A young Latine boy finally gets to rescue the dog of his dreams, but training can be a challenge in two languages.

Like many children, José has been dreaming of having a pet of his own, specifically un perro, a dog. Like any good owner, José promptly begins training his new canine companion but soon realizes his rescue mutt, Feliz, knows only words in English. This is a problem because in José’s home everyone speaks both Spanish and English. José and Feliz must rise to the challenge; fortunately, treats and snuggles are great motivators. The narrative uses Spanish words and phrases throughout (“perros blancos,” “¡Yo quiero este!” “¡Sientate!”), usually with English context clues for understanding. This is complex vocabulary for an early reader, and the shifting in phonics from English to Spanish will be challenging for true beginners; the book is best suited for intermediate to advanced readers in dual-language classrooms or homes. Much like Feliz, however, it is sure to find a loving (and bilingual) home. Cheerful illustrations complement the text, helping readers make sense of the narrative. While José and his mother are darker-skinned, his father and sister are lighter-skinned. (This review has been updated for accuracy.)

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further. (glossary of Spanish-English words) (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52116-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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