Darren Saligari (text), Austeja Slavickaite-Wojtczak (illus.), What is Doggy Heaven?, Rose-Grace Press, 9 Feb 2018, 26pp., $19.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9780992502416
The terms Doggy Heaven and Pet Heaven are commonly used to help children deal with the loss of a loved family pet. This book seeks to give children a clear idea of what Doggy Heaven is, and the knowledge that their pet is in a safe place.
What is Doggy Heaven? is written from the perspective of a young child whose dog has died. She asks her mother many questions including where Doggy Heaven is, how dogs get there and who looks after them. Her mother offers simple, concrete explanations which are appropriate for children such as ‘it’s beyond the clouds, way up high,’ and ‘Bella will have everything she needs and more.’
The text is accompanied by playful, bright, cartoon illustrations that help to make it a tender book without it being overly sad.
My five-year-old daughter asked me to read this book several times in a row. She was interested and comforted, I think, by the idea of a Doggy Heaven, especially after the death of her pet chook. She asked questions afterwards which prompted a small discussion and allowed me to give some more tailored and nuanced answers.
Recommended for children between the ages of three and seven, especially if they have experienced the death of a pet.
Reviewed by Rebecca Blakeney