From Publishers Weekly
Children's fascination with and fear of death gets a funny and ultimately empathic treatment from first-time author Hill. The matter-of-fact text, as narrated by a boy, shares the tone of Margaret Wise Brown's The Dead Bird: "When I found a dead ladybug one day, my sister, Wilma, buried it for me. She painted a rock to use as a tombstone." Mock funerals for insects then become the new neighborhood fad: "Wilma started charging a dime to bury someone's dead bug. Billy opened a lemonade stand for thirsty mourners.... Soon we had a bug cemetery in our backyard." But when a car kills Billy's cat, Buster, the children confront a sobering reality, and the precocious irony that has crept into the boy's narration vanishes, replaced by a heartfelt plainspokenness: "Funerals aren't any fun when they're for someone you love." The children transform the bug cemetery into a garden and final resting place for Buster, and find comfort in the ongoing cycle of life. Rosenberry (When Vera Was Sick) varies her gouache illustrations between single-page and double-spread formats to give the book a compelling visual pace. The children's elfin facial features and the masque-like compositions take on a slightly gothic appearance, appropriate to the play-acting and, eventually, the sorrow. The artist captures the psychological subtleties of a tricky subject, and every page feels real whether Wilma and her friends are feigning grief or genuinely experiencing it. Ages 4-7.
From School Library Journal
reschool-Grade 1--When a boy finds a dead ladybug, he and his sister Wilma bury it and hold a pretend funeral. Billy, the boy next door, joins in by bringing over a dead fly. Soon, neighborhood children want to take part in the ritual and bring various bugs for burial, creating a cemetery. Wilma charges 10 cents for funerals and Billy opens a lemonade stand, transforming what was imaginative play into a business. However, when Billy's cat is hit by a car and dies, the funeral is real and sad. The cat is buried among the bugs and the children plant a memorial butterfly garden around his grave. Hill approaches the subject of the death of a pet in a very gentle manner suitable for young children. At the same time she portrays the ingenuity, resourcefulness, and resilience of youngsters. Rosenberry's illustrations incorporate children of different ethnic backgrounds and are bright and summery, conveying hopefulness in spite of sadness. The story ends with Buster the Second chasing butterflies in the garden.
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Be Astengo, Alachua County Library, Gainesville, FL
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