Dog Heaven

467 Words2 Pages
In Twentieth Century Western culture, issues of death and dying tend to be uncomfortable, particularly when young children are involved. Yet even young children must face the fact of death. Today's media-rich environment brings evidence of a dangerous world, a world in which children themselves are the victims of bizarre and unnatural death in far away places such as Bosnia and Belfast as well as in the cities and suburbs we call home. Like adults, children also experience the more natural deaths of loved ones, of friends, of pets and other animals. How we help children to cope with the death in their lives remains important. One way parents and professionals seek to help young children to deal with death is through books. Indeed, there have been many fine picture books that serve this purpose well.{1} The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, by Judith Viorst (1971), and more recently, Dog Heaven, by Cynthia Rylant (1995), are two of the many picture books that can help children and adults cope with the loss of a pet — in these instances, a pet dog. Viorst's book focuses on the loss of a specific pet, Barney, while in Dog Heaven, Rylant deals with the topic in a more universal manner. Rather than showing us one person's loss of a specific animal, she shows us the happy place to which all dogs go when they die.…show more content…
In Annie and the Old One, by Miska Miles (1971), a young girl tries to stop her grandmother's death, but eventually understands and makes peace with the fact that her grandmother will die soon. In Old Pig, by Margaret Wild (1996), the granddaughter helps her grandmother prepare for her death by enjoying their final days together — playing music for her grandmother, and holding her grandmother as the grandmother dies. The young pig experiences the death of her grandmother, but we are distanced in the story by the anthropomorphised characters: Old Pig and her granddaughter are pigs not
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