Resources for Children Who Are Dealing with the Loss of a Pet Dog

Back in 2001, when my family moved to Long Island, I was taken to an old lady’s house where I had the opportunity to pick out a kitten as my first official pet. I chose a kitten who had short white fur and black splotches all over. I have given her the stereotypical name that many pet owners can associate with, Kitty. I loved her, and she loved me. Eventually, as I grew, she got older and was diagnosed with an terminal illness. Kitty died in 2013.

During the time I had Kitty, the family adopted a female pitbull mix named Blondie. This pooch is the friendliest and laziest animal you can imagine. Since my cat’s death, Blondie has been having an undetectable illness that my family cannot afford to get diagnosed. As I visit my family, I notice her getting worse and I know the inevitable is coming soon.

After Kitty’s death, I isolated myself from everyone. There was few people I can turn to, and no one who can help me cope with the loss of my beloved pet. This is the first time I have ever encountered the death of someone who meant so much to me, however I think about children and wonder “what can they rely on?” Perhaps parents, but how do they relay the message to the child that death is inevitable or that their pet is in a better place?

Inspired by my own pets, I posted a list containing resources that will help parents find materials for a child who are dealing with the loss of a pet dog. I have categorized my selections into different sections that include picture books, nonfiction, DVDs, and ebooks. The age range of these materials are ideally for children within 5 – 8 years old, or kindergarten to the 3rd grade.  Each resource title will be linked to the Port Jefferson Free Library’s catalog for availability status and rental.

Picture Books

89378Dog Heaven

By Cynthia Rylant

Published by Blue Sky Press

Awards, Honors & Prizes

  • ABC Children’s Booksellers Choices Award, 1996 Picture Book
  • Rylant, C. (1995). Dog Heaven. New York, NY: Blue Sky Press.

Newbery Medalist Cynthia Rylant writes a story about how God created Dog Heaven, where dogs who passed away visit and stay. From unending fields to run around and endless biscuits to eat, everything dogs love will be found in this sanctuary. Rylant’s picture book is great for reassuring children that their pet dog is in a better place with colorful and vibrant illustrations. Parents will be able to use this resource to have a theological discussion with their child about the afterlife.

 

51xIFQQRrzL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Harry & Hopper

By Margaret Wild and Freya Blackwood

Published by Feiwel and Friends

Awards, Honors & Prizes

  • Kate Greenaway Medal, 2010
  • Prime Minister’s Literary Award, 2010 Children’s Fiction
  • Western Australian Premier’s Book Award, 2009 Children’s Book

Wild, M. & Blackwood, F. (2009). Harry & Hopper. New York, NY: Feiwel and Friends.

Harry & Hopper is a memorable tale of a boy and his dog, love and loss. Harry met Hopper as a puppy, and since then they were inseparable. They played together and slept in the same bed. One day Harry father’s told him that there was an accident that killed Hopper. Devastated, Harry avoids everything that reminds him of his beloved pet dog. However Hopper returns, night after night, for his chance to say goodbye. This story is perfect for parents to help children cope with the loss with a loved one.

 

81LJmmse-ZLSally goes to heaven

By Stephen Huneck

Published by Abram Books for Young Readers

Awards, Honors & Prizes:

  • Parents’ Choice Award, 2014 Picture Book

Huneck, S. (2014). Sally goes to heaven. New York, NY: Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Sally Goes to Heaven is a book about an old dog who falls asleep, presumably dying, and waking up in heaven. From there she finds many amazing things to explore: a gigantic pile of socks, bushes that grow meatballs, Frisbees filling the sky, etc. Although she is sad to be separated from her family, Sally’s only wish is for her family to move on and adopt a new dog. Award-winning author, Stephen Huneck presents a story that some parents will appreciate when introducing the afterlife to their children.

 

514Hc47bOAL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Sammy in the sky

By Barbara Walsh

Published by Candle Press

Awards, Honors & Prizes

  • Lupine Award, 2011 Picture Book
  • Maine Literary Award, 2012 Children’s Literature
  • Nautilus Book Award, 2012 Children’s Picture Book Fiction
  • Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award, 2011 Book

Walsh. B. (2011). Sammy in the sky. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.

Inspired by her family’s first dog, Barbara Walsh presents a heartfelt story about a girl who talks about the best hound dog in the entire world, her dog Sammy. This picture book illustrates the joyful moments between the girl and her dog as well as the anguish following the impending loss of her beloved pet when he was diagnosed with an untreatable illness. Acknowledging the death of pet is painful at first, but over time the girl find a way to cope, making her value the wonderful times she shared with Sammy. With vivid and beautiful paintings, this book can be read for a child who is expressing grief after the death of a family pet.

 

51VF9060G8LUp in Heaven

By Emma Chichester Clark

Published by Doubleday Book for Young Readers

Chichester Clark, E. (2003). Up in heaven. New York, NY: Doubleday Book for Young Readers.

Daisy is an old dog who is devoted to her human, a boy named Arthur. One night, she falls asleep and wakes up in heaven. As much as Daisy is happy now in heaven, she notices that Arthur is miserable without his faithful companion. Determined, she sends Arthur dreams to help let him know she is alright and that it is acceptable to move on. This lighthearted story is great for parents to read to children who are in the process of healing after losing a beloved pet dog.

 

Nonfiction

51c+a5GsK8L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_When a pet dies

By Fred Rogers

Published by Putman

Rogers, F. (1988). When a pet dies. New York, NY: Putnam.

From the star of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, television celebrity Fred Rogers creates a book to encourage family talk and explore the common emotions that a child may feel when a pet dies. His tone throughout the text is warm and reassuring. Roger explains the reality in having a pet and the inevitably of death with empathy. This book is wonderful for parents to take a caring approach to their child about handling this traumatic experience.

 

DVDs

rich_frankenweenie_header_mobile_aa62583bFrankenweenie

Released in 2013

Directed by Tim Burton

Produced by Allison Abbate

Burton, T. (Director) & Abbate, A. (Producer). (2013). Frankenweenie [DVD]. Burbank, CA: Buena Vista Home Entertainment.

Inspired by the death of his beloved pet, Tim Burton creates a movie filled with whimsical adventure. Victor Frankenstein is a boy who loves his dog, Sparky. When Sparky died in an accident, Victor is in grief but later determined to do something no one has ever done before, to raise the dead. With the power of Science, he is able to bring his dog back to life. However when the secret of his dog’s resurrection is leaked, Victor will have to think a way from keeping everyone from finding out. This movie is delight and suitable for families or children who share a special bond with their pet.

Trailer:

 

My_dog_Skip_(movie_poster)My dog Skip

Released in 2000

Directed by Jay Russell

Russell, J. (Director). (2000) My dog Skip [DVD]. Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video.

Based on an autobiographical title of the same name, My Dog Skip is a heartfelt story that starts with an older Willie Morris who reminisce about his best friend and canine companion, Skip. The movie is set during the time Willie was a shy child, unable to make any friends. It was not until he received a puppy that the boy’s life has changed. Skip has enriched Willie’s life, helping him befriend other kids and even acquiring a girlfriend. The dog eventually passes away from old age, but remembered fondly by her owner. This film is to appeal to animal lovers, family, and children who can relate to a pet whom they loved dearly.

Trailer:

 

MV5BMTI2NTgzOTc5NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDY3MTcyMQ@@._V1_Where the red fern grows

Released in 2004

Directed by Lyman Dayton and Sam Pillsbury

Produced by David Alexanian, Katy Wallin-Sandalis, Bob Yari, and William J. Immerman

Dayton, L. & Pillsbury, S. (Director). Alexanian, D., Wallin-Sandalis, K., Yari, B., & Immerman, W. J. (Producers). (2004). Where the red fern grows [DVD]. Burbank, CA: Walt Disney Home Entertainment.

This film follows the life of Billy Colman, a boy whose dream is to have his own coonhounds and make them the best hunting team in the community. His dogs, Dan and Little Ann, are inseparable as well as loyal to their young owner. The death of the dogs are depicted in a cautious and censored manner compared to the book. Children will be delighted by the lovable pair of dogs, watching the adventures unfold in this coming-of-age story.

Trailer:

eBook

51qVMdl07CLI’ll always love you

By Hans Wilhelm

Published by Random House Children’s Books

Wilhelm, H. (2015). I’ll always love you [electronic resource eBook]. New York, NY: Random House Children’s Books.

This story presents the moments between a boy and his relationship with the family’s pet, Elfie. As the boy grew up, the dog became older and eventually died from old age. Wilhelm shows the importance of loving an animal, and expressing that love out loud. The boy does this every day with Elfie, and with whichever pet he will have in the future. Parents will be able to use this book to help children understand that although death is inevitable, love is eternal.

 


Resources

Charles A., C. (2003). PET LOSS IN DEATH-RELATED LITERATURE FOR CHILDREN. Omega: Journal Of Death & Dying, 48(4), 399-414.

Chitwood, D. (2016, April 8). Best Children’s Books about the Death of a Pet [Blog Post]. Living Montessori Now.

Clark, J. (2004). Where the Red Fern Grows. Variety, 24.

Kirkus. (2004,Februrary 15). Review of the book Up in Heaven, by E. Chichester Clark [Book]. Available from the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database: http://www.clcd.com.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/#/bookdetail/1/0/OknNJkmqJnLOJNlL/bdrtop

Kirkus. (2011, July 1). Review of the book Sammy in the sky, by B. Walsh [Book]. Available from the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database: http://www.clcd.com.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/#/bookdetail/1/0/QdqqIJHphLHJjOmL/bdrtop

Kirkus. (2004, Februrary 15). Review of the book Up in Heaven, by E. Chichester Clark [Book]. Available from the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database: http://www.clcd.com.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/#/bookdetail/1/0/OknNJkmqJnLOJNlL/bdrtop

Marantz, K. & Marantz, S. (n.d.) Review of the book Henry & Hopper, by M. Wild [Book]. Available from the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database: http://www.clcd.com.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/#/bookdetail/1/0/OfoPlgjsFNHrIMmm/bdrtop

McLean, T. J. (2012). Dawn of the Dead Pets. Animation, 26(8), 14-17.

Nichols, P. M. (2000, January 28). TAKING THE CHILDREN; Story of a Boy and His Dog, Or the Other Way Around. New York Times, p. 6. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=cuny_centraloff&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA121213734&asid=0cbcf8731b5fcc3a45bdad09f1b58809

Pet Loss Resources for Children. (2016). Veterinary Team Brief, 4(10), 26.

School Library Journal. (2014, April 15). Pet Picture Books. SLJ Spotlight. Retrieved from http://www.slj.com/2014/04/reviews/spotlight/pet-picture-books-slj-spotlight/

Zvirin, S. (1995, August). Review of the book Dog Heaven, by C. Rylant [Book]. Available from the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database: http://www.clcd.com.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/#/bookdetail/1/0/qhrKGkNmfshOHomm/bdrtop

 

Lumberjanes

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Lumberjanes. By Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Walters, and Brooke A Allen. Boom! Box, 2015. 128 pages. $14.99

 

Reading/Grade Level(s):

Guided Reading—‘S’; Lexile measure GN390L; DRA level 40; Grades 6 and up

 

Genre:

Friends and Friendship; Ghosts, Monsters, Vampires, Witches; Scouting and Clubs; Graphic Novels

 

Summary (Based on back cover):

lumberjanes1

Friendship to the max! Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are five best pals determined to have an awesome summer together…and they’re not gonna let any insane quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! Not only is it the second title launching in our new BOOM! Box imprint but LUMBERJANES is one of those punk rock, love-everything-about-it stories that appeals to fans of basically all excellent things. It’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Gravity Falls and features five butt-kicking, rad teenage girls wailing on monsters and solving a mystery with the whole world at stake. And with the talent of acclaimed cartoonist Noelle Stevenson, talented newcomer Grace Ellis writing, and Brooke Allen on art, this is going to be a spectacular series that you won’t want to miss. Review:

 

Reviews (Provided by the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database):

Sarah Hunter (Booklist, Dec. 15, 2015 (Vol. 112, No. 8) )

Continuing their quest to uncover magic and be best friends, Mal, Jo, Ripley, April, and Molly earn their Lumberjanes merit badges with aplomb. When a marauding pack of velociraptors invades craft day, the Lumberjanes leap into action, though the dinos only seem to be after Jo, who secreted away one of the golden disks that mark every monstrous critter that arrives at camp. When a creepy old grandma suggests that Jo is really a mystical being in disguise, it drives a wedge into the Lumberjanes. Why would Jo keep secrets from her best friends? But there are bigger problems afoot: one of their camp mates, Diane, is not who she seems, and she s using the Lumberjanes for her own nefarious purposes. Stevenson and Ellis rip-roaring plot is packed with magic, mayhem, teamwork, and some fantastic jokes, and it s all riotously rendered in Allen s bold and brassy artwork, which clearly depicts even the most pell-mell scenes and perfectly complements the off-the-wall story. The series opener received broad, enthusiastic acclaim, and this follow-up should fare just as well.

Lumberjanes-001-Preview-PG6-600x922

null (Cooperative Children’s Book Center, 2016 )

Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet s Camp for Girls Hardcore Lady Types is where Lumberjane scouts gather in summer. Campers Molly, Mal, Ripley, April, and Jo are finding camp holds a lot of surprises. When they re beset by a wild group of wolves in the forest (they go into the defensive Little Red formation ), they re determined to discover the meaning of the mysterious message Beware the Kitten Holy, which appeared above the wolves in the sky. Ditching their counselor, Jen, at every opportunity, they have one supernatural encounter after another. Meeting each challenge means working together, building a steadfast bond. A boisterous graphic novel featuring singular characters, each of whom brings her own unique strengths to the group, is feminist, funny, and refreshing. The book is divided into rousing episodic chapters, each of which is aligned to a section of the facetiously formal Lumberjanes manual detailing the requirements for a specific badge.

 

Awards:

download

 

Cybils Awards, 2015 Graphic Novel

Cybils Awards, 2016 Graphic Novel

Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, 2015

 

Literacy Tie-Ins for Public Libraries: Make Beliefs Comix is a website where users can create and design their own comic strip. Public libraries can take this freeware and introduce children to graphic novels in a program. This would not only encourage creativity, but literacy for the targeted audience participating in the event or workshop.

 

Read-Alikes:

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Princeless

By Jeremy Whitley

Illustrated by Mia Goodwin

 

 

 

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The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1: Squirrel Power

By Ryan North

Illustrated by Erica Henderson

 

 

dkemedmel

 

 

Adventure Time with Finn and Jake

By Ryan North

Illustrated by Shelli Paroline

 

 

 

Why this Comic Appeals to Children:

Children will be delighted to read a story packed with friendship, teamwork, mayhem, and evil monsters. Whether a kid is spontaneous like Ripley or reliable like Molly, Lumberjanes provides a magical adventure with five distinctive and flawed girls that any child can relate to. With exclamations such as “what the junk!?” this graphic novel presents humor with unique word play. The colorful illustrations and quirky plot would get even the most reluctant reader interested.

 

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Resources

Hunter, S. (2015, December 15) Review of the book Lumberjanes, by N. Stevenson, S. Walters, and B. A. Allen [Book]. Available from the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database: http://www.clcd.com.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/#/bookdetail/1/1/OIPNHHOKfmHNJnkm/bdrtop

Null. (2016). Review of the book Lumberjanes, by N. Stevenson, S. Walters, and B. A. Allen [Book]. Available from the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database: http://www.clcd.com.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/#/bookdetail/1/1/OIPNHHOKfmHNJnkm/bdrtop

Scholastic. (n.d.) Beware the Kitten Holy. Retrieved from https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/books/lumberjanes-vol-1-by-grace-ellis/

 

Digital Media: Apps and Autism

 

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Kipper, B. (2013, June). Apps and autism: tools to serve children with special needs. American Libraries, 44(6), 36+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=cuny_queens&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA335073154&asid=7e40d2a7dda41e6eaf4dc283c1de77be

Published from American Libraries, Barbara Kipper’s article focuses on how apps can be used as a tool to serve children with autism. The reason this resource is selected is due to thoroughly detailed description of the capability, evaluation, and recommendation of these distinctive technological devices throughout the article. Most of the autism-specific apps or resources mentioned are inexpensive, which is optimal for public libraries who suffer from a low budget. The author’s experience with teaching librarians about working with children with disabilities reveals some professionalism in Special Education. Overall, this article’s advisability and application of apps pertain to every public library’s mission, to serve patrons and meet their needs.

 

That said, this resource is similar to other resources assigned this week. The Smart Apps for Kids’ site is very useful in providing a selection of app reviews for children with special needs, including autism. This form of recommendation reflects to Kipper’s strategy in introducing librarians to, or parents, to utilize technology with children. In addition, American Academy of Pediatrics released an article providing tips and recommendations to help families balance a child’s use of digital devices or media. Although it does not particularly relate to children with disabilities, this resource focuses on how adults play an important role in the lives of children, especially in the Digital Age. Nevertheless, the growth of technology is inevitable, however-with the right balance and maintenance-any child, disability or not, can benefit greatly from using apps and electronic devices.


References

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016, 21 October). American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Recommendations for Children’s Media Use. Retrieved from https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/american-academy-of-pediatrics-announces-new-recommendations-for-childrens-media-use.aspx

 

Kipper, B. (2013, June). Apps and autism: tools to serve children with special needs. American Libraries, 44(6), 36+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=cuny_queens&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA335073154&asid=7e40d2a7dda41e6eaf4dc283c1de77be

 

Smart Apps For Kids. (n.d.) Special Needs. Retrieved from http://www.smartappsforkids.com/special-needs/

 

 

Intellectual Freedom

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According to the American Library Association, the Library Bill of Rights guarantees intellectual freedom for individuals, regardless of age, origin, background, or views (2006b). For children librarians, intellectual freedom is a core value because it is their responsibility to provide a variety of materials without censorship. A librarian’s responsibility when it come to information is to make sure children have the same privilege as any other adult, and to restrict them of that goes against their right to read. Otherwise, how else would children be able to make educated decisions (American Library Association, n.d.)?

The restriction of certain materials from circulating in libraries, particularly public libraries, is nothing new. Censorship is regarded as one of the leading challenges that limits intellectual freedom. However, it is important to note that 40% of the individuals who demand material to be removed or censored from the library are parents (Molly, 2016). Parents may have the right to “protect” their children from materials that conflict with their core values, they can not force their beliefs onto others by restricting their access to materials they disagree with. This is not just limiting the intellectual freedom of children but it is also a violation of the child’s First Amendment rights. Therefore children librarians must be advocates for children’s intellectual freedom and protect and defend the right of every child to select any material or seek any information that they desire.

Below is a annotated list of resources recommended for children librarians to read, learn, or explore Intellectual Freedom and the current issue at hand.

American Library Association. (n.d.). Kids, Know Your Rights [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/alsc/sites/ala.org.alsc/files/content/issuesadv/intellectualfreedom/kidsknowyourrights.pdf

This particular resource provides a detailed guide about Intellectual Freedom for kids. Not only does it provide a basic definition of a their rights, describes the challenges that occur to the First Amendment as well as how children can defend their right to read. Professionals will find this online document useful for its suggestive titles surrounding the idea of Intellectual Freedom and printer-friendly format for distribution.

 

American Library Association. (2006). The Freedom to Read Statement. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/statementspols/freedomreadstatement

According to the ALA and the Association of American Publishers, the freedom to read is an essential right for everyone which is guaranteed by the Constitution. This resource goes into detail about an individual’s given power to express themselves, to communicate, and enrich in information that he or she wish to seek. Librarians will find this statement practical with the propositions written, enabling them to reaffirm the assertion or guidelines in Intellectual Freedom.

 

American Library Association. (2006). Library Bill of Rights. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill

Adopted by the American Library Association Council, this resource is an essential policy on the Library Bill of Rights. These statements are considered the basic principles that should be followed in every library. This document allows a librarian to reflect on his or her goals and for users to be reminded of their rights to Intellectual Freedom.

 

Brown, N. (2015, October 1). Q&A: Patrons Ask; Librarians Answer: Will you really let my kid read whatever they want [Blog Post]? Retrieved from https://oaklandlibrary.org/blogs/childrens-services/qa-patrons-ask-librarians-answer-will-you-really-let-my-kid-read-whatever-t

Nichole Brown is a “mild mannered” librarian who provides an insight for a situation she faced when a parent heard that a child can read whatever he wants. Although this resource is a blog post from a public library, there are references from the ALA website about Intellectual Freedom. With a humorous tone, Brown offers other children librarians ideas, advice, and recommendation of books on this sensitive topic.

 

Molly. (2016, September 27). Celebrate the Right to Read. Retrieved from http://millvalleylibrary.net/middleschool/?p=507

Provided by a fellow librarian, Molly takes part in the 2016 Banned Book Week to express her thoughts on a child’s right to read. Using resources from the American Library Association, she shows her support to defend Intellectual Freedom as well as encourage parents to allow children to explore books and reading. Professionals and parents will find that this article gives attention to the controversial issues that surround a user’s right to read.


References

American Library Association. (n.d.). Kids, Know Your Rights [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/alsc/sites/ala.org.alsc/files/content/issuesadv/intellectualfreedom/kidsknowyourrights.pdf

American Library Association. (2006). The Freedom to Read Statement. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/statementspols/freedomreadstatement

American Library Association. (2006). Library Bill of Rights. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill

Brown, N. (2015, October 1). Q&A: Patrons Ask; Librarians Answer: Will you really let my kid read whatever they want? Retrieved from https://oaklandlibrary.org/blogs/childrens-services/qa-patrons-ask-librarians-answer-will-you-really-let-my-kid-read-whatever-t

Freedom of Speech [Online Image]. 2016. Retrieved April 23, 2017, from http://ula.org/organization/committees/intellectual-freedom/

Molly. (2016, September 27). Celebrate the Right to Read. Retrieved from http://millvalleylibrary.net/middleschool/?p=507

Book Review: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson.

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Bridge to Terabithia [sound recording audiobook CD]. By Katherine Paterson. Performed by Robert Sean Leonard. Harper Audio, 2004. 4 audio disks. $21.90, ISBN 13: 9780060758332.

Robert Sean Leonard brings Jesse Oliver Aarons Jr. to life with Katherine Paterson’s Newbery-winning novel. Jesse practices throughout summer to become the fastest runner in school, until the new girl, Leslie Burke, came running along and wins every race. Despite the initial disappointment to his loss, Jesse and Leslie become platonic friends. Shared between themselves, they created an imaginary sanctuary that is known as Terabithia in the woods. Happiness is short-lived when unexpected tragedy occurs, forcing Jesse to find the courage and strength within himself to overcome it. Leonard successfully interprets each character through emotion, especially with Jesse’s grief. Listeners will be attracted to his sincere reading as well as the musical interludes that occur with the beginning and ending of each disk.

Regardless of its controversial content, Bridge to Terabithia is an exceptional realistic fiction with notable themes of family, friendship, and death. Parents will find this book suitable for children, ages 9 to 12, who may have experienced the loss of a loved one. Paterson introduces the topic of death, and how it is inevitable, in a sensitive manner. However, her character’s resolution to this dark subject is one that portrays hope by continuing his life with newfound strength. This character development allows children to identify themselves with Jesse and find their own courage to overcome their own tragedies or weaknesses. Overall this unforgettable tale of magic and friendship make this modern classic a perfect addition to any Children’s Collection.


References

Paterson, K. (2004). Bridge to Terabithia [sound recording audiobook CD]. New York, NY: Harper Audio.

Books of Information: Awards and Comparisons/Differences

Established in 2001 by the Association for Library Service to Children is the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal, an award is given to those whose informational books have “made a significant contribution to the field of children’s literature” (Vardell, 2014). Another achievement that provides a barometer of quality is the Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, created by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), an annotated book list that the organization considers under curriculum standards for social studies. The similarities and differences between each award will be examined using a 2014 Sibert winner, Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore, and NCSS selection, Frog Song by Brenda Z. Guiberson.

parrots

Parrots Over Puerto Rico talks about parrots who have become endangered animals due to the deforestation and events that occurred in Puerto Rico. The book offers a unique perspective with its vertical format. Compared to Frog Song, Roth and Trumbore provides more informational text with the history of Puerto Rico with an extensive afterword as well as a timeline of important dates. Interestingly enough, the resources used in the book includes personal interviews and professional documentation.

frog-song-cover-imageAlthough Guiberson supplied websites to find frog facts and a note mentioning the endangerment of these species, the book uses simple information for a younger audience with bibliography that come from resources like National Geographic. In addition, the writing style uses onomatopoeia for frog sounds, which provides entertainment for the kids to imitate. The illustration for both books are beautifully depicted, with one incorporating paper-and-fabric collages and the other using mixed media. In the end, the authors have a high regard towards birds and amphibians, respectively, as well as preservation for the environment.


References

Guiberson, B. Z. (2012). Frog Song. New York, NY: Henry Holt.

Horning, K. T. (2010). From cover to cover : Evaluating and reviewing children’s books (Rev. ed.). New York: Collins.

Roth, S. L. & Trumbore, C. (2013). Parrots over Puerto Rico. New York, NY: Lee & Low Books Inc.

Vardell, S. M. (2014). Children’s literature in action : a librarian’s guide (2nd ed.). Santa Barbara, CA : Libraries Unlimited, An Imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC.

Newbery Award: Science Fiction and Fantasy

newbery-medal

The Newbery Award was first created in 1921 by Frederic Melcher to celebrate children’s literature and it remains one of the most coveted awards in literature. However, in recent years, the science fiction and fantasy genres have not been well represented on the recipients list of winners or nominees. In one article, Elisabeth Kushner discusses, “speculative fiction” as being “notorious[ly] slight[ed] fiction in favor of realism, especially earnest historical realism”. Is it possible that the prestigious Newbery Medal plays favorites and has some bias against more abstract genres?  

Discussion about the reasoning behind the winners or nominees is nothing new. As Maughan explains, people have questioned the winners for many reasons. However, she noted that, “That’s what Melcher wanted—that kind of discussion and exchange. People care about the awards. Even the harshest critics care very much, and Melcher wanted people to care about excellent books.” It seemed that Melcher was not scared of a backlash from critics; his focus was to bring new, different books to the public’s attentions for them to make their own opinions about and discuss. Perhaps, although science fiction and fantasy are popular, they do not meet the standards of challenging readers or creating discussions as Melcher designed the award to do. Or, maybe because of their popularity, the judges choose books in less-popular genres so as to give attention to notable books that are otherwise ignored by the general population (like historical fiction).

Whether these genres can meet the standards of challenging readers is debatable. Literary fiction or realism seems to dominate the literary world while speculative fiction is seemingly discounted because of its outward-looking perspective, which is often beyond the realms of reality. The creativity aspect of each genre, like in speculative fiction, and its popularity, is often the most notable element. Although Melcher may not have seen creativity as a standard to winning a Newbery Award, the lack of creativity in favor of realism does not define what makes a piece of literature excellent. Nevertheless, the negative stigma against these two particular genres is a topic that needs to be addressed.

 


References

Kushner, E. (2012, Jan. 24). The Newbery Medal and Speculative Fiction. Retrieved from http://www.tor.com/2012/01/24/the-newbery-medal/

Maughan, S. (2011, Dec. 02). And the Winner Is… Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/49729-and-the-winner-is.html