When a Pet Dies Written by Fred Rogers Photographs by Jim Judkis Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons 1988 Genre/Topics: Realistic, Death, Pets Ages: 3-6, 32 pages Death is a hard time period for all individuals, especially children who may have difficulties understanding exactly what death means. The first death experience a child may have is when a dear pet dies in their family. When a Pet Dies begins slowly and discusses how pets are part of the family and take great care. The book explains that sometimes their pet gets sick and needs a pet doctor or veterinarian. However, sometimes their pet is too old, sick, or injured for anyone to cure. Many people may gently explain to children that death is going to sleep for a long time, but When a Pet Dies explains that when a pet dies it isn’t alive so it can’t wake up. The book explains how people handle death differently. It’s okay to feel upset, cry, or desire to be alone. The important thing is to remember that there are loved ones who care about how you feel about losing your pet. When a Pet Dies finishes that with time you will no longer feel sad and you’ll feel happy again thinking about the good times with your pet. When a Pet Dies doesn’t talk down to children, instead it handles a difficult subject in a comfortable and understanding way. Fred Rogers understands children, which is clearly seen if you watched Mr. Rogers. When a Pet Dies never goes into detail about what occurs after death or anything religious. That can be discussed within your family. I recommend When a Pet Dies for both a pet and individual death.
Here’s my family’s dog, George, who recently passed away.
David is nine years old who lives with his grandmother since his mother died in an accident. He takes his frustrations out on his grandmother and doesn’t have any friends. He always follows the rules, since his mother’s death was caused by someone who didn’t follow the rules.
Primrose is thirteen years old who lives with her fortune-teller mother and her own ‘room’ is an old vehicle that she hopes to beautify. People often egg her ‘room’, but she tries not to take it too personal. She’s not sure who her father is and often pretends to be someone else.
David’s first encounter with eggs is when he’s dragged to an Easter egg hunt with his grandmother. David finds an egg, but after a second glance he notices that the egg was resting on lips. This is the first time he meets Primrose, yet he believes she’s dead.
David and Primrose begin unlikely friendship. David now sneaks out late as Primrose takes him ‘shopping’, which is actually searching through trash to sell items at a flea market. David knows he’ll never get into trouble since his grandmother won’t tell his father even if she does notice him gone. Primrose also doesn’t tell her mother about her late night shopping trips, since her own mother often isn’t thinking straight. David and Primrose often yell their frustrations at each other, but they gradually help each other with their own personal struggles.
I had difficulties with Eggs, because I honestly don’t think a nine and thirteen year old who aren’t siblings, neighbors, or attend the same school would become friends. However, they are never truly friends instead they both come from slightly dysfunctional families and together they slowly realize how to live through their pain and heal in the process. Personally, I don’t think this was Jerry Spinelli’s best book. I suggest Maniac Magee for a great read.