Cynthia Rylant's Dog Heaven
Book review by Steve Barancik
The afterlife for dogs depicted by Cynthia Rylant is one that will put a smile on any animal lover's face.
Dogs have it good up there! Instead of wings, God gives dogs fields to run in, since he knows how much they love running.
There are geese to bark at and angel children to play with. Everyone
has a biscuit to share with their canine friends, and when it's time to
go to sleep...well, clouds make very soft beds.
The dogs each find a cloud bed for sleeping.
They turn around and around in the cloud...
And if you, the dog, are worried about the human family you left behind? Got you covered! An angel dog walker takes you back to earth to look in - invisibly and silently - on your old family.
Then, comforted, you can return to heaven.
Also, you get to stay in heaven forever if you
like, which means you'll be there to welcome your old family when they
show up too.
Newbery-winning writer Cynthia Rylant picks up a paintbrush to take charge of all aspects of Dog Heaven. Her joyous canvases fill the pages with dogs living the afterlife of their (or maybe our) dreams.
Now, kids are a bit more literal than we adults, so be ready for the young ones to take this book definitively. If Heaven isn't something your family believes in, you'll need to be ready to discuss with your kids that this is a somewhat fanciful depiction of where Fido went.
"Isn't it fun to imagine?"
If, on the other hand, God and Heaven are concepts you're comfortable with, Dog Heaven will speak for itself.
Know too that author-illustrator Rylant followed this up with Cat Heaven, a book very much in the same mode.
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