Saturday, September 27, 2008

Buddy's Candle

I'm introducing a new feature for the blog. On Saturdays, it will be known as Mia & Mommy's Book Blog, and Mia will be reviewing a children's book along with me. I hope to be inspiring a love for books in Mia by reading to her several nights a week and by her seeing me regularly with a book in my hand. Molly doesn't read as much as she used to, but she still has her favorites, and when she finds a book she loves, she'll read it until the binding falls apart (literally. She's on her third copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone). Doogie isn't a big reader, but he's just discovered Jim Butcher's Dresden Files and has been burning up the pages. Mia loves being read to, and she's starting to recognize some words on her own. I hope by talking about books together we'll start a tradition that will encourage her love of reading and give me the chance to talk about some kids' books we both love.

I took her to her third dance lesson this morning, and it began a new phase of my life. As a child I was known as Harold Trever or Virginia Valley's granddaughter or Dick & Carol Trever's daughter. Then I was Doogie or Molly's mom, and then Jesse's wife. This morning after I dropped Mia off at class and was leaving the building, a little boy stopped me and said, "Are you Mia's mom?" I smiled and proudly said, "Yes!" That will be how I am recognized at her schools for the next twelve years. It's a label I am glad to wear.

Buddy's Candle by Dr. Bernie S. Siegel & Mari Gayatri Stein is a beautifully written and rendered story about a little boy's love for his dog, Buddy, and how Buddy taught him to appreciate life and handle death. First, Mia's thoughts on the book. The book is about a puppy who died. And the dead part made me sad. I almost cried. The puppy went to heaven, and all dogs get a candle to celebrate their life, but his boy was crying and putting the candle out with his tears. My favorite part was when the boy got Buddy as his pet, because it made me excited for him. My bunny Ebony died, and I still miss her, but I'm not going to cry for her anymore, because I don't want to put her candle out. I'm going to remember her with love, because that will keep her candle lit forever. Now my thoughts. I think that Dr. Siegel tackled a difficult problem to discuss with children with remarkable compassion and tact. Trying to explain death to a child is painful, but Buddy's Candle turns death into a celebration of life. The story kept Mia's interest throughout (although she was very near tears when Buddy died), and Stein's artwork is charming. One small quibble: there is a editing error with the boy's name near the end (the son's name is Simon, but the name is used for the boy instead). The image of the father with his son and dog at the end brings the story to a full circle. The book also has a wonderful message of embracing life every day, making it a chocolate ice cream day. One of the best lines is this: He asked if I knew why dogs have shorter lives than people. I told him dogs know how to love and forgive, so they don't need all that time to learn. A wonderful book for kids struggling to deal with death, especially that of a pet.
If you enjoyed Mia's review, drop me an email I can share with her to let her know!


Becky said...

What a great idea! Who better to give an opinion than a child. My kids are little critics also, for instance last night we read "A Day With My Dad," by Lance Waite. My kids liked it so much that they made me go online to find out if there were any more books like it. We were pleasantly surprised to find that this author has also come out with another book titled, "A Day With My Dad at the Beach." Needless to say I have ordered it and am expecting it soon. My point is, they knew what they wanted to read so I chose to honor their opinions. I think it is great that you are doing the same.