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The Tenth Good Thing About Barney Paperback – Picture Book, September 30, 1987
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From the Publisher
But the small boy who loved Barney can only think of nine. Later, while talking with his father he discovers the tenth -- and begins to understand.
About the Author
Erik Blegvad was born in Denmark and studied at the School of Applied Arts in Copenhagen. Mr. Blegvad has illustrated more than one hundred children's books, including Twelve Tales by Hans Christian Andersen, Riddle Road by Elizabeth Spires, Hurry, Hurry, Mary Dear! by N. M. Bodecker, and Sea Clocks: The Story of Longitude by Louise Borden. The Blegvads divide their time between England, France, and Wardsboro, Vermont.
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A beloved cat dies, and it's sad. The viewpoint character is a little kid, and it is tough for the kid to understand how to handle grief (I am honestly not sure about the gender of the child, nor does it matter). Mom suggests that the kid make a list of all the things that made Barney the cat special. Both parents are clear that it's ok to be sad, that the loss is real and that they are grieving, too.
The kid and a friend bandy around ideas about what happens when a cat dies, and Dad rejects the idea that anyone knows what happens to the soul, but we do know what happens to the body.
A lot of reviews I've seen are very negative about the "areligious" aspect of talking about decomposition, and not Heaven, but I think it is a comfort, at least it was for the very tangible minds of my young children.
We don't know what happens to the soul, if any, after death, but we are pretty clear on what happens to bodies. This is a book about the acceptability of grief, and the consolation of good coming from hard things.
Top international reviews
The story encouraged my eldest to come up with some ways to remember our cat which helped her to come to terms with our loss. I highly recommend this beautiful story for anyone needing to explain the loss of a pet to young children.
simple, poignant and profound