Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The End of Something Wonderful by Stephanie V. W. Lucianovic and George Ermos - #2 for Children's Day

FIRST you need something dead, meaning
something that was once alive but isn't any longer. 
Your Something Dead will most likely be something
wonderful you loved very much as a pet, like a guinea
pig or a fish. 
Perhaps a pill bug. 

This is an oddly blunt beginning to a book about losing a pet, I thought, but when I read The End of Something Wonderful: A Practical Guide to a Backyard Funeral, it occurred to me that it's a necessary evil, talking about the loss of pets, and bluntness with a little dark humor is not unwarranted.

In The End of Something Wonderful, author Stephanie Lucianovic talks about the process of burying a pet but she keeps it light and fun. You'll need a box, but careful about the box you choose. A litter box, for example, is too stinky and jack-in-the-box is too springy. A shoe box is good for many pets. You'll have to dig a hole but the size depends upon the size of the Something Wonderful. You'll need permission to dig a hippopotamus-sized hole but most pets will fit in a fairly small hole. Don't bury something that's alive; that's rude. Sing or say a few words if you feel like it, maybe tell stories about your Something Wonderful.

You could also explain how being dead won't ever change how much you love them. But if you don't feel like saying it out loud, it's perfectly okay to hug that thought inside your heart, too. 

She tells you it's okay to laugh or cry at a funeral. The author also advises you not to dig your Something Wonderful back up, later, to see how things are going and then tells you it's okay if you're not quite ready to feel like the backyard funeral is over, after you're done.

You see, it's possible you still aren't all-the-way ready to say goodbye to your Something Wonderful that is now your Something Dead. 

Highly recommended - There is only one thing I really dislike about The End of Something Wonderful and I ran it past both Huzzybuns and Kiddo. Am I being picky? I asked. They both said yes, but I'll share anyway. On the final spread, it says funerals happen at the end of Something Wonderful but it's not the end of everything. You can always begin something wonderful again. And, the spread is an illustration of a little girl looking into a lobster tank, the implication being that maybe she can get a lobster for her new pet.

The problem I have is that there are fish on ice in the background and some of them are chopped into sections. In a book that has a fish as one of the Somethings Wonderful that were pets, I found that a little disturbing. Again, the family thought I was nuts. Fish are in the seafood shop; get used to it, woman. It still bothered me the second time I read the book but in general, I loved the book because it's such a positive look at losing a pet, laying it to rest, and moving on. Most children will have a pet of some kind and losing them is hard when they die. I've never read a book about burying a pet, as far as I can recall, and I love the fact that such a thing is available. I think there should be a book for everything and loss and grief are things children experience, so I'm giving this one two thumbs up. Apart from that final spread (Did I mention I refuse to touch raw meat and I'd happily go vegetarian if the cook would let me? I might be a little biased.) I also love the illustrations.

Many thanks to Sterling Children's Books for the review copy! This is #2 for Children's Day. The final review will be up later today.

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  1. Aw. I have buried many many fishes, and we have had a few gerbils and hamsters reach the end of their lives, too. I think this book would have been great for my seven-year-old at the time. Wonder if the final pages would disturb me, as well- being a fishkeeper. Wouldn't a kid looking into an aquarium at a pet store have been a better choice? rather than a live lobster for sale to be eaten- not to mention what's in the background!

    1. Yes, exactly! While I think the book is an excellent one for helping kids through the loss of a pet, that last spread baffled me. Lobsters in a fish shop are not meant to be pets and fish chopped into filets seem a confusing thing for a child who may have just flushed a goldfish. The flushing ceremony in the book is cute, by the way.

  2. Flushing is not a good way to dispose of expired fish, btw. It is really frowned upon in the aquarium hobby, for spreading disease into local waterways. I'm doubly disappointed that this book perpetuated the idea that's okay to do. (I REALLY hope it didn't show a pet goldfish being kept in a one gallon bowl as well).

    1. I don't have the book handy or I'd look. It has a boy standing on the toilet tank, saying a few words about the fish (it's pretty funny) but doesn't actually show the fish that's being flushed in that illustration, as I recall. I didn't realize it's frowned upon to flush dead fish but that makes sense. If they go into waterways and they died of illness rather than old age, I can see how it could do damage. You learn something new every day!


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