"Evan and his dog did everything together." The first line of THE ROUGH PATCH by Brian Lies sets up the deep friendship between Evan, a fox, and his dog.
In this book, Evan especially enjoys sharing his love of gardening with his canine friend. The two friends did everything together, until..."
one day the unthinkable happened."
The author doesn't come out and say that the dog died. Instead, an artful two-page spread explains that "Evan laid his dog to rest" and shows the fox, dejected, digging a hole in his garden. The art on the right-hand page shows a swirling cloud with the text "and nothing was the same" surrounded by moody, dark colors. Any child (or adult) who has lost a pet would be familiar with the emotions elicited by this powerful combination of words and images.
This book depicts Evan angry and sad about the loss of his friend, until gardening eventually is his salvation...and the path to a new canine friend. I love how this book shows that getting over grief takes time and that it ends on a hopeful note.
It's not easy to write about death in a way that's both moving and accessible to children. New York Times-bestselling author/author Brian Lies has done a fabulous job with this book, which I'd recommend to any child who's ever lost a pet.
The Rainbow Bridge has a worksheet that kids can complete to help them work through the grief of losing a pet. Younger kids can be helped by a parent or teacher or can only complete the appropriate parts.
This article from Psychology Today also has some tips, including the idea of creating a "Bowl of Memories" with scraps of paper with memories (written or drawn) about the pet.
The Rough Patch
by Brian Lies
Published by Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins), 2018
Ages: 4 and above
For more Perfect Picture Books, please see Susanna Hill's blog.