Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Today's read... Finding Joy by Raven Howell

 I'm a little late...again (that makes 3 days in a row!). I'd say that the days will slow down here soon, but I'd be lying. Call it Summer insaneness until the usual school year starts up again. 

Today's read heads right down the joyful line...well, somewhat. It actually deals with the difficult theme of loosing a beloved pet and finding joy afterwards. We have lost two of our furry family members in the last three weeks due to old age, so the theme hits home in our household, at the moment.

But let's just continue and take a peek.

by Raven Howell
Illustrations by Pamela C. Rice
Story Monsters Press
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 7


When they adopt an old dog from the local animal shelter, a little girl and her brother are excited to have a special new friend to play with. They embark on all kinds of adventures with Joy, romping through the snow and splashing in spring puddles. But one day, while the kids are at school, sweet Joy lays down for a nap and does not wake up.

The family is very sad. It is natural to feel gloomy when you lose someone special, the girl and her brother learn, but it’s important to remember the happy times, too. Slowly, the family’s hearts begin to heal. Soon it’s spring again, and with a new season comes another furry friend in need of a loving home—MEOW!

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Concentrating on the wonderful friendship between a pet and its family, this book allows joy to stay front and center when dealing with loss.

When a girl and boy's family adopts a dog, they are excited. Soon, they're exploring and experiencing all sorts of wonderful things. Through snow, sun, and year after year, they play and have tons of fun. But one day after school, the two learn that their dog has passed away. 

While many books about grieving a pet concentrate on the moments surrounding and after the death, this book steers toward the fun shared during the pet's life. It hops seamlessly from one happy scene to the next, giving a general sense of happiness and warmth, while letting the years flow by. With gentle lines and bright colors, the illustrations allow each scene to come across like a hug and will have listeners dreaming of their own pets or wishing they could join in.

When the loss comes, it doesn't concentrate on good-byes and sadness, but rather, lets the emotions hit briefly before introducing the activities the siblings do to remember their dog fondly...and then, they move on and find new joy in life. It's just the right amount of time to let things sit but then, go on and offer hope. The very end of the book offers a few suggestions for caretakers/parents on how to handle a pet's death with their children. 

The story flows very well and makes a nice read-aloud. The beginning first starts with the adoption of the brother, which while nice, did have my kids asking if he was going to pass away, too (kids and their thoughts!). And I'll admit I found it distracting from the main theme of the story (half of my siblings are adopted...so I understand the joy). But that aside, this handles the theme of losing a pet very well and I can recommend it.

And here they are...

Raven Howell is a multiple-award-winning author and poet of children’s books. She is Creative & Publishing Advisor for Red Clover Reader, and a contributing author for Reading is Fundamental. In addition, she writes for several magazines, including Story Monsters Ink, Ladybug, Spider, Highlights for Children, Hello, Humpty Dumpty and The School Magazine. Howell was also the director of a Story Monsters poetry contest for students, and compiled the winning entries featured in I am Monster Magnificent.

Pamela C. Rice has enjoyed a well-decorated career in advertising, graphic design, and visual communications, and now she enjoys creating children’s illustrations that are fun, imaginative and educational. Since 2015, Pam has released 12 books, including When the Brown Bird Flies, The Painting Speaks, Aaron’s Dreams and Rufus Finds A Prize.

1 comment:

Raven Howell said...

Thanks so much for your kind words! During the painful time of the pandemic, so many children were losing their loved ones - parents, siblings....and I wanted to address the issue of death in a softer, round-about way for younger children. And pets are our family members, aren't they? Book readers tend to gravitate to Finding Joy, and I think that's because however often or infrequent, we all need soothing, hugs and to know everything is alright. I hope my book's message touches those who may need that tenderness.