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The Death of a Pet

The Saddest King
by Chris Wormell
(Jonathan Cape)
Sometimes children need help to understand that it is all right to reveal their true feelings. This story, set in a Bruegel-like kingdom teeming with people, acknowledges that from time to time it is perfectly acceptable to feel sad.
    A small boy is arrested by the palace guards for crying and brought before the King. But then he discovers that behind his mask, this seemingly jovial monarch is hiding his own feelings of grief about the loss of a beloved dog. The two reminisce about their respective pets and the King then repeals the happiness law imposed in his realm.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Lovely Old Roly
by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Priscilla Lamont
Roly the cat is old and tired - so old that he sleeps all the time and eventually he dies. The family bury him in the garden and, at first, the children find they are too sad to play. Gradually they learn to live with their grief and start to want another cat but Mum and Dad aren't ready yet. It's too soon. Then a stray cat arrives on the doorstep, slips inside and moves in. But the children never forget Roly - he's always with them in their memories. This sensitive story deals well with emotional loss without introducing the concept of heaven or life after death.
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Goodbye Mog
by Judith Kerr
(Collins)
It's over thirty years since the publication of the first Mog title: now, in this the twelfth story we bid her farewell. Feeling the need to 'sleep forever' Mog dies peacefully in her basket, though that eternal sleep is not entirely upon her, ' a little bit of her stayed awake to see what would happen next.' What she sees is the Thomas family grieving and their efforts to install a new ginger kitten as family pet - a pretty 'stupid one' is Mog's initial impression. But gradually, under the expert guidance of her ghostly predecessor and Debbie's unconditional love, Rumpus is accepted as the new family pet by the all the Thomases and Mog finally departs.
A sensitive handling of what can be a difficult subject for parents and carers to deal with. The secure family relationships portrayed in the story enable the children to transcend their grief and cope with the new addition to the household.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Up in Heaven
by Emma Chichester Clark
(Andersen Press)
Daisy was Arthur's dog but she was very, very old. One night she goes to sleep in the usual but when she wakes up, she's in heaven. It's a wonderful place where she's young again and has plenty of other dogs to play. Daisy looks down from her new home in heaven and watches Arthur grieving for her. To cheer him up, she sends him dreams to show how happy she is and to suggest he has a new puppy. Once he has another dog to love, she feels free to really enjoy herself. This gentle picture book presents death as a positive moving on to a better place. It could help other children grieving for a lost pet, provided Mum and Dad are willing to have a replacement.
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You'll find other relevant titles on
    Death of a Grandparent   
    Grief

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