From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2—Burleigh tackles a tough subject in this story of a boy whose dog dies of old age. Death comes with no trauma, just a slow decline as Sheepie runs out of energy and stamina. Owen eventually finds him lying motionless under a tree and realizes that he has lost his friend. The tearful child and his father put the animal carefully into a wagon and, with great sorrow, bury him. As they do so, they recall many of the fun times they had with Sheepie. Burleigh fuses the story with the obvious sadness but with the hope that Sheepie will always be part of their lives. Catalanotto's watercolor and gouache illustrations provide the soft edges that keep this story poignant yet real. Losing a pet is, in some ways, a rehearsal for other losses, and this book may well help children cope when such things occur. Team it with Judith Viorst's The Tenth Good Thing About Barney
(S & S, 1971) for helping children begin to understand the realities of death.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
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The author of Clang! Clang! Beep! Beep! Listen to the City (2009) deals here with a pet’s death. Owen and his dog, Sheepie, are best friends, sharing walks, playtime, and a bed. Although he knows Sheepie is slowing down as he ages, Owen is still upset to find the sheepdog unresponsive under an oak tree. Luckily, Dad is nearby to help with a riverside burial and to encourage Owen to remember the good times the two have shared. Catalanotto’s gentle watercolor-and-gouache paintings give off a yellow glow suggestive of warm sunshine on an autumn day, and are well suited to Burleigh’s quiet text. Although death is never mentioned—nor is afterlife discussed—readers will comprehend Sheepie’s demise and accept the sensitively handled depiction of his burial. A thoughtful choice for one-on-one sharing, this should spark discussions about death and funeral customs. Pair with Corrine Demas’ Saying Goodbye to Lulu (2004), which addresses grieving as well as death. Grades K-2. --Kay Weisman