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Dog Heaven Hardcover – September 1, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Newbery winner Rylant, who debuted as an illustrator with her Everyday board books (1993), offers paintings and text in tribute to "Dog Heaven." Here there are fields to run in, soft beds (made of clouds turned inside out) and "angel children," because "God knows that dogs love children more than anything else in the world." Rylant's childlike acrylic paintings-similar though less practiced than the work of Lucy Cousins-are filled with checkerboard steps, yellow daisies and pink stars. Whether she is aiming for whimsy, albeit self-consciously, or striving to present a genuinely comforting view of heaven is not entirely clear. God, for example, stands like an organ grinder at a biscuit machine, wearing a purple hat and sporting a white mustache. "God has a sense of humor," Rylant tells us, "so He makes His biscuits in funny shapes... kitty-cat biscuits and squirrel biscuits," and "every angel who passes by has a biscuit for a dog" because "every dog becomes a good dog in Dog Heaven." Many will think Rylant's vision appropriately warm and fuzzy; others will consider her on thin ice, psychologically and theologically. Dead animals invisibly return to earth "for a little visit," a development likely to unsettle young mourners; told that dogs in Dog Heaven will be "at the door" when "old friends show up," many children are going to worry about how those old friends got there. All ages.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2?Curl up with Rover and take a journey to Dog Heaven, where there are endless fields for running; clear lakes filled with teasing, honking ducks; and loving angel children playing everywhere. There are tasty biscuits shaped like cats and fluffy cloud beds for sleeping, memory trips back to favorite spots and people, and cozy homes with petting hands. Rylant uses simple, comfortable language and an abundance of careful detail to create a place of warmth and happiness. Dressed in colorful clothing and sporting an orange scarf, God is friendly and accessible; he looks after "His dogs," making sure the biscuits are appetizing and the dreams are serene. With their simple shapes and bold lines, the bright acrylic paintings have a childlike appeal. Brush strokes add texture and depth, while unusual color combinations?glowing mixes of oranges, purples, and greens?contribute to the peaceful mood. Canines become part of the landscape; tumbling hills and rounded surfaces reflect the rapid motion of exuberant pooches running breathlessly across endless fields, while pawprints shine brightly beside nighttime stars and decorate the sides of mountains. The reassuring story might comfort a child after the loss of a pet, but this pleasant, imaginary paradise will have a broader appeal to all animal lovers.?Joy Fleishhacker, New York Public Library
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
"When dogs go to heaven, they don't need wings because God knows that dogs love running best." From that simple beginning, this book paints a picture of a place filled with canine joys. There are good-natured geese to bark at, angel children to play with, and dog biscuits to munch. Even strays have wonderful homes and lots of love in dog heaven.
It's been over twenty years since I lost my first and favorite dog, and I identified with this book as if the loss had been yesterday. I can't think of a better way to say farewell to a good and faithful friend than to share this book as a memorial.
Although there is a lot of imagination (as to how God runs this heaven, dogs sleeping on clouds, etc) in this it is done so well it makes us all feel good.I would like to take exception to that one professional reviewer's opinion re 'faulty theology' that pets might visit here from the other side because they don't have an afterlife. If she thinks that animals don't continue after death she might consult her Bible, which says something quite different. They do. And some do, indeed, 'visit' with their people (a book I recommend below goes into this in detail). Dog Heaven presents this in such a way that will not frighten children at all. It will make them hopeful.
Perhaps Cynthia Rylant had this experience, or knows someone who had. Although I take the position that people and their pets alike (as well as animals in general) will share the same Heaven, I can see no harm in a dog or cat heaven premise for young children. Parents can always say the child can visit, or that the animals can come and live in 'people heaven' if they wish to.
I would also at this time like to recommend two books:
The first is an absolutely heartwarming book, FOR EVERY DOG AN ANGEL; we learn that at birth a puppy's angel comes to stay with it throughout its life. When it is lucky enough to bond with its "forever person" the angel feels great joy. When it is time the "forever dog" passes over its angel that becomes its "angel bridge" to the other side. Sometimes it can cross back for a visit (the writer has had that comforting experience and she handles this idea in such a way as to bring great happiness at the thought to children.). When it is finally our time to cross over, we find our "forever friend" eagerly awaiting us.
The second is THE SOUL OF YOUR PET. This book gives solid evidence of animal afterlife; wonderful, credible recountings of interactions of people with pets that have passed on. WIll cause even the most hard-nosed skeptic to re-think his views . Biblically accurate as well