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.