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Book Review: Dog Heaven

Updated: Jul 14, 2022

Written and illustrated by Cynthia Rylant The Blue Sky Press, an Imprint of Scholastic Inc.

Dog Heaven (and its companion book, Cat Heaven) creates a wonderful world where our furry friends go when they pass from this one. There is no heartbreak here, only soothing for the heartbreak and almost a gladness that our friend is in such a wonderful place. The book is written for children, but speaks to the heart of anyone who grieves over the loss of a pet.

Here are some excerpted descriptions:

From Amazon:

“In Newbery Medalist Cynthia Rylant’s classic bestseller, the author comforts readers young and old who have lost a dog, as she did for cats in the bestselling companion book, Cat Heaven. Recommended highly by pet lovers around the world, DOG HEAVEN not only comforts but also brings a tear to anyone who is devoted to a pet.”

From Booklist

“… In this joyfully imagined place, God is a smiling, white-haired gentleman who watches the goings-on as dogs run and bark, play with kids,… and sleep on fluffy clouds. It’s also a place where dogs patiently wait for old friends: “They will be there at the door. Angel dogs.” Rylant’s kindergarten concept of the hereafter is cheerful but not humorous or glib. The story seems quietly and deeply rooted in faith, but it is neither sober nor sentimental, and the notion of a higher being is blended naturally into the text in an unpretentious, comforting way.”

From Publishers Weekly:

“God knows that dogs love children more than anything else in the world.” Rylant’s childlike acrylic paintings…-are filled with checkerboard steps, yellow daisies and pink stars. … “God has a sense of humor,” Rylant tells us, “so He makes His biscuits in funny shapes… kitty-cat biscuits and squirrel biscuits,” and “every angel who passes by has a biscuit for a dog” because “every dog becomes a good dog in Dog Heaven.”

From School Library Journal

“…There are … clear lakes filled with teasing, honking ducks… memory trips back to favorite spots and people, and cozy homes with petting hands. Rylant uses simple, comfortable language and an abundance of careful detail to create a place of warmth and happiness. Dressed in colorful clothing and sporting an orange scarf, God is friendly and accessible; he looks after “His dogs,” making sure the biscuits are appetizing and the dreams are serene….The reassuring story might comfort a child after the loss of a pet, but this pleasant, imaginary paradise will have a broader appeal to all animal lovers.”

Rylant tells us that best of all, the dogs who have had no home on Earth are given one in Dog Heaven, with a porch and a couch and his own bowl and his own angels, “and each dog is petted and reminded how good he is, all day long.”


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