Perfect Picture Books – The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye

The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye

Jane Yolen, author and Jim LaMarche, illustrator

Random House,  2011, Fiction

Suitable for: Preschool and Elementary (ages 4 and up)

Theme: Pet Loss, Grief

Synopsis: “The day Tiger Rose said goodbye was a soft spring day, the sun only half risen.  Little brilliant butterflies, like bits of colored paper, floated among the flowers.” Tiger Rose is a gray striped tabby cat who is growing old and knows the end of her life is nearing.  She heads off to say goodbye to the family she loves, Rolf the dog she fights with, and her nature friends.  She finds her favorite napping place near a rose-bush and quietly makes her transition.

Why I like this book:  Jane Yolen’s story is a celebration of Tiger Rose’s life and provides a beautiful, sensitive and reassuring way to explain death to children.   It will bring comfort to children and adults who have experienced the death of a pet or have an aging pet.  Activity:  This is an opportunity for children to share their feelings  and favorite stories about a beloved pet, draw pictures, and make a collage or remembrance book.  For more books with resources please visit Just Right Books!

Every Friday I will share my Perfect Picture Book, as will other writers on their blogs.  We will post our selections on author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website under Just Right Books.  We hope to develop a list of favorite picture books for parents, teachers, librarians,  writers, homeschoolers and gift-givers.

Copyright (c) 2011,  Patricia Howe Tilton, All Rights Reserved

Helping Kids Cope with the Death of a Pet

Good-bye, Sheepie, is written by Robert Burleigh, and illustrated by Peter Catalanotto.  It is a touching story written for children 4 to 8 years of age.  The illustrations are soft and beautiful and add to the somber mood.

Owen and his dog, Sheepie, are best friends. They are constant companions as they play fetch, go for long walks and sleep together at night.  Sheepie is aging, he’s not as playful and he’s starting to sleep more.   Sheepie begins to limp as he walks and Owen has to help his best friend climb the stairs.  One day, Owen finds Sheepie lying under a tree.  His best friend won’t wake up.   Owen’s father is very supportive and helps him understand that Sheepie is dead.  He honors Owen’s grief and they do a special tribute to Sheepie as they bury him in a favorite place.  His father helps his son find closure as they talk about all of Owen’s happy memories of his best friend, and how Sheepie will remain a part of him.

As a child, I remember the neighbor’s cat killing my baby rabbit.  I sobbed and insisted on putting my bunny in a box, digging a grave, burying the box, and holding a service with my younger brother.   It was an early experience of death for me, and I wanted to  honor the short life of  my pet.   So, I thank  Burleigh for writing such a memorable story on a heartbreaking subject of the death of a pet.   The loss of a favorite friend and companion is even more devastating for a child.   Burleigh  handled the subject gently, and his book is a beautiful lesson of loving and letting go; something a child will continue to learn throughout life.

Two other books written for children who have experienced the loss of a pet, are Dog Heaven and Cat Heaven.  Written and illustrated by Cynthia Rylant, the books are colorful, uplifting and at times humorous.   The Book Jacket says:  If  you have ever been lucky enough to have a special dog or cat in your life, then you know there is a place called Dog and Cat Heaven.  The vision of both books mirror what many people believe about heaven.    There is a religious element to the books.   Regardless of what you believe, they are good books to help you talk with your child about their grief and what happens to their pet.

Rylant, the author of more than 60 books for children, debuted her first attempts at painting in Dog Heaven.  She is a self-taught artist, who is strongly influenced by the folk artwork of Grandma Moses.  She also illustrated Cat Heaven.   Children will delight in the bold and beautiful  pictures.