How do you let go of a departed pet?
Salerno’s retro caricatures exemplify comforting memorial behaviors. Black crayon is used to form the characters on the sunny yellow pages; a controlled digital palette includes accents of darker yellow, white, and black. Channeling a Bemelmans’ heroine, Margot wears a skirt and an oversized bow in her pageboy. The minimalist garden setting features a chair, four white tulips, and a yellow lump. Thoughtful friends contribute blue balloons and a box. Otto dons his “best hat,” while Melinda plays a “cheerful melody” on her French horn. Buddy the dog is actively present. The lump turns out to be Tim, who, when covered with the flowers and arranged in the box, ascends into the now-blue sky “to a place where he basked in the warm sun and swam in cool waters, forever a happy turtle.” As in Remy Charlip’s and, later, Christian Robinson’s versions of Margaret Wise Brown’s The Dead Bird (1958, 2016), Salerno shows readers how to help a friend mourn a dead animal. Most important, of course, is showing up. Similar to the kites in the aforementioned editions, the balloons add an important buoyancy to the telling, providing a possible entree to matters of the spirit, if readers desire it. The characters are all the yellow of the paper save friend Vincent, who is a darker yellow and has crinkly dark hair.
A succinct text and an uncluttered design provide space to discover and process a loss. (Picture book. 3-6)