Wonderful Goodbyes

Little, Brown. Apr. 2024. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316313322.
PreS-Gr 3–A young dog owner who presents as Asian features in the illustrations and anticipates the death of her beloved pet by spending the day saying goodbye to all of the things, sounds, and activities they have enjoyed together. In her debut picture book, Wu’s gorgeous digital illustrations allow readers to see and feel the warmth of the sunlight the pet enjoyed in the past, which is in contrast with the snowy day of the present in a comfortable suburban setting, surrounded by loving family. The story’s message, to enjoy each last moment together and say goodbye while knowing that the one that is dying will remain in one’s heart forever, is told in the second person. The “you” addressed, however, is the dying dog. This authorial choice sometimes comes across as an adult’s need to creatively express rather than a deep consideration for the youthful audience: “It paints you like a Monet” and “they dance to the spring waltz, just for you.” Still, for libraries where there is demand for sensitive stories about preparing for loss and death that feature a middle grade narrator, this book may be a necessary purchase.
VERDICT Don’t let readers mistake the sun-dappled girl and her dog in a meadow on the cover for a happy book about pets instead of the tearjerker it is; it’s a beautifully rendered, lyrical depiction of the feelings of a child as their pet’s life nears its end.

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