The final entry in the late Huneck’s series about Sally the black Labrador is a touching account of Sally’s death from old age and her joyous experiences in heaven.
On the opening page, Sally hears the front door close. She is in pain and no longer wants to eat. The dog spends her last day peacefully sleeping in the sun, and the next morning, “Sally wakes up in heaven.” There are three pearly gates in Huneck’s illustration: for “good people,” “good dogs” and “good cats.” Sally finds she is no longer in pain and that heaven is full of friendly dogs, along with surprising treats like gigantic piles of dirty socks and meatballs growing on bushes. There are no leashes or fences, and all kinds of animals are friends, with human companions always ready to throw a stick or scratch a tummy. In a satisfying conclusion, Sally wishes her family would adopt another dog, and a yellow Labrador joins the family she left behind. Huneck’s distinctive woodcuts with bold lines and simplified shapes ideally complement the restrained yet emotionally rich story. This stands alongside Cynthia Rylant’s Dog Heaven (1995) as recommended bibliotherapy for families who have experienced the death of a beloved dog and who wish to promote the notion of an afterlife.
Gentle, understated and comforting to both children and adults. (Picture book. 4-8)