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Portia Clare
Best Friends Forever: A Puppy's Tale

Picture Book; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Scoopie has just turned four, and she is getting a puppy for her birthday! Scoopie and her new puppy, Sandy, become instant best friends. They play together, eat ice cream, and sleep in the same bed! But when Sandy falls ill, Scoopie is left with endless questions: What’s wrong with Sandy? Will she get better? When will we get to play again? With just one diagnosis, everything changes…. Best Friends Forever: A Puppy’s Tale is a tender, heart-warming story about love, loss, and everlasting friendship. It is a wonderful resource of care for parents and teachers that will help them guide children through the real-life experience of owning, loving, and losing a beloved family pet, and finding the courage to share that love again.
A young girl learns the depths of love—and loss—in Clare’s heartwarming debut. Scoopie has just turned four when she learns her parents are getting her the gift she’s always wanted–her very first puppy. Packing their car full of new dog goodies, the family heads out to pick up Scoopie’s present, a dachshund she names Sandy. (Scoopie also promptly declares that Sandy looks “like a hot dog.”) Scoopie and Sandy are immediately best friends and spend their time playing, fetching, and sharing food–until one day the family takes Sandy on an airplane flight and her ride in the luggage compartment triggers a seizure.

Unlike many feel-good pet tales, this one comes with a painful life lesson: Despite medical treatment and the family’s deep love, Sandy eventually dies from complications of epilepsy. However, Scoopie is able to soak up many fun experiences with her puppy before she passes away, and Clare is attentive to the difficulties of explaining pet illness to younger readers. Readers will learn what a seizure is and why it’s important to be sensitive to animals (or people) who are experiencing them, and although Sandy’s outcome is heartbreaking, it’s handled with grace. Scoopie takes time to grieve the loss of her puppy, and when she feels ready, she asks for another dog–this time a miniature schnauzer named Omar.

The most important part of this story is its gentle treatment of grief. Scoopie circles back to her memories of Sandy while learning to love again, recognizing the similarities and differences between the two dogs as she introduces Omar to Sandy at her gravesite, a meeting that Clare aptly describes as “a family reunion.” Alderson’s muted illustrations provide a fittingly hushed atmosphere, and although it covers delicate territory, this emotional story will strike a chord for any reader who has endured the loss of a beloved pet.

Takeaway:A young girl experiences the loss of her first pet in this emotional story.

Great for fans of: Patrice Karst’s The Invisible Leash, Adrian Raeside’s The Rainbow Bridge.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A-
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A