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)