Goodbye Mog

Goodbye, Mog

Goodbye Mog

Judith Kerr
Collins, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2002

From the dust jacket, “’Mog was tired… Mog thought, “I want to sleep forever.” And so she did. But a little bit of her stayed awake to see what would happen next…’

“Judith Kerr’s stories about Mog have delighted children for more than thirty years and sold over three million copies worldwide. In Goodbye Mog, Judith Kerr uses characteristic warmth and humor to create an extra-special book about everyone’s favourite family cat.”

This is one of those books that talks about the death of a family pet in a gentle way. The author reminds the reader that even though the cat (or other pet) is physically gone from our lives, they remain there in spirit. This reminds me of something I read or heard somewhere – that as long as you remember your loved one they are never really dead. I like that at the end of the book, Mog moves on spiritually when his work is finished – as so often happens, when one pet leaves their human a new one comes along, not to replace the first pet, but to help the human heal and move forward in love and peace.

If you, your family, or someone you know has suffered the death of a beloved pet, this sweet picture book is an ideal way to approach the subject and, maybe, begin the healing process.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws; the author tackles a tough subject with absolute gentleness and hope.







BIG CAT, little cat

big cat little cat

BIG CAT, little cat

Elisha Cooper
Roaring Brook Press, 2017

From the dust jacket: “There was a cat who lived alone. Until the day a new cat came … . From award-winning author Elisha Cooper comes a poignant story about friendship, family, and new beginnings.”

From the description on the dust jacket, it would seem this book is rather simple – but it’s not. Well, it is, on the surface. A cat lives alone with his family; they bring home a new kitten; the older (big) cat teaches the younger (little) cat how to be a cat. They have many years together until the older cat goes away – and doesn’t come back. Sad. But … . Can’t say – don’t want to ruin it.

Big Cat, Little Cat is a perfect vehicle for opening a dialog with your kittens about life and death and life. The very simple line drawings pack a punch, the words are few but powerful and the story evokes emotions of both joy and grief. The book is like haiku in that for a true wordsmith it only takes a few words to communicate volumes. Experienced readers will certainly be able to read the book on their own – but read it as a family, instead. It may evoke memories both joyful and sad that need to be spoken aloud so the love may be paid forward.

Rating: 5 of 5 paws because it’s a truly beautiful story that is overflowing with the truth of life.







Gregory Maguire
Hyperion Paperbacks for Children, 1996, 1998

Thirteen-year-old Hand comes home from school and finds his father dead on the floor. He is alone in a rundown motel and then alone at the hospital where he waits. His mother left his father and his older sister, Vida,  three years before and moved to Seattle. Vida is in college a couple of hours away. When Hand is eventually reunited with his mother, he is full of anger over her abandonment of him and resentment that his sister has seemingly welcomed their mother back into their lives. On top of all that, guilt weighs heavily on him – if only he had come straight home from school instead of staying for track practice his father would still be alive and his mother on the West Coast.

This book tackles what is hard for anyone, let alone a child, which is the death of a loved one. Over the course of a year the reader watches Hand grow from a closed-down soul of a boy into an understanding and compassionate young man. In the end he still has issues with his mother but he knows he can move beyond those problems and back into the life as a teenager.

The author writes Hand with compassion, sensitivity and an eye toward all the jumbled-up emotions death brings. This is one of those stories that the author could easily have stretched into hundreds of pages but has distilled it down bare bones and raw emotions. Among all of the books I have read by Gregory Maguire, this numbers among the best –its brevity of word and accessibility for all ages (although it is geared toward 9-12) offers hope even in the midst of grief.

Rating: 4 paws

selfie 092015ddReviewer: Toby

blog header 3Also published on Sunny Book Garden under the non de plume ‘Debby’.

A Mango Shaped Space



A Mango-Shaped Space

Wendy Mass

Little, Brown and Company, 2003

Mia is a rising eighth-grader who has synesthesia (Wiki-link & Live Science link), a person senses are crossed. As the book opens, Mia is honoring the one-year anniversary of her grandfather’s death, and at her side constantly is her cat Mango. She has yet to fully grieve her grandfather’s death as she believes her Grandpa still lives in Mango. We journey with Mia through just over a year of her life and in that year she learns to cope with the joy of finding out she is not alone in her color-world, the turmoil of schoolwork, boys and best friends, and finally the pain of loss.

Main characters

·          Mia, as a synesthete, she sees shapes of colors whenever she hears sounds and sees colors for letters and numbers. For instance, the color of her name is candy apple red with a hint of light green. She has kept this a secret from everyone since she was in the third grade, including her parents, brother, sister and best friend.

·         Grandpa, although he is dead and we don’t actually meet him, his absence plays a major part in Mia’s life.

·         Mango, a grey and white cat that as a kitten appeared at her grandfather’s grave the day he was buried. He is named for the mango-color of his breath and purrs.

Secondary characters

·         Jenna , Mia’s best friend and PIC (Partner in Crime), like Mia, she has felt deep grief

·         Zack, Mia’s annoying little brother  (as all little brother’s are when they are that young)

·         Beth, Mia’s annoying older sister (as all older sister’s are always)

·         Roger, schoolmate and history project partner,  who also has felt the pang of deep loss

·         Mom and Dad, Mia’s parents, who do their best to understand their “Wild Child.”

Other characters

·         Billy Henkle, a very young boy whom Mia meets in the grocery store and for the first time realizes she is not alone in her color-wheel  world  

·         Jerry, the neurologist who diagnosis’s Mia

·         Adam, an on-line friend and fellow synesthete


It would be impossible for me to review this book without giving away the ending, well-not all of it, but the main turn in the book is right there in the title – “A Mango-Shaped Space.” Mango – as much as it pains me to say, well, he dies. There- it’s out. I’m, sorry, but it happens. Way at the end of the book, but it does. We get clues all along the way, clues that Mia misses and then beats herself up for not seeing them. But way before we get there, we learn to understand what it is like in her world, a world filled with bursts of color and texture.  As Mango is slowly dying, Mia is busy growing up. She is coming into her own as a young woman and learning to leave behind the things that prevent her from moving forward.  The transition of Mango from life to after-life (yes, there is after-life for cats) Mia finally transitions from grief into life. And like all births, it is a struggle, but her Grandpa and Mango gave her much needed strength to go on.


Rating:  4 paws because I really liked it, I cried when Mango died and I learned something new (about synesthesia).

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dec 24 2010 Reviewer: BobbiSue

 Wendy Mass

Wendy Mass is the New York Times bestselling author of fifteen novels for young people (which have been translated into 14 languages and nominated for 74 state book awards), including A Mango-Shaped Space (which was awarded the Schneider Family Book Award by the American Library Association), Leap Day, the Twice Upon a Time fairy tale series, Every Soul a Star11 Birthdays, Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, and FinallyThe Candymakers , and 13 Gifts. Her latest books are The Last Present, Pi in the Sky, and a new early reader series called Space Taxi. Wendy wrote the storyline for an episode of the television show Monk, entitled “Mr. Monk Goes to the Theatre,” which aired during the show’s second season. She tells people her hobbies are hiking and photography, but really they’re collecting candy bar wrappers and searching for buried treasure with her metal detector. She lives with her family in New Jersey.

Some of her books:


 Could this be Mango?

Other books with Mango in the title (the word not the cat!)


Making Rounds with Oscar



Making Rounds with Oscar, The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat

David Dosa, M. D.

Hyperion, HarperCollins Publishers, 2010

Going in I had no idea what the book was about, only that it was about the cat who knew when people were going to die. What it turned out to be was a book about a group of compassionate care givers in a nursing home, devoted to caring for patients with end-stage dementia, or Alzheimer’s. The nursing home, Steere House, is located in Rhode Island and has cats on every floor of the home. Oscar lives on the third floor with another cat named Maya. The third floor is where the dementia patients go to die.

Here are some quotes I found meaningful:

“As I left the lobby I looked back at the cats in the atrium; they were already engaged in chasing each other, like two kids playing tag. My comings and goings were of no concern to them. They were truly in the now. My life is made of pagers, deadlines, appointments, and responsibilities. At that moment the existence of a cat looked pretty good to me.” Pg 45

  • I wonder how at peace humans would be if they learned to live in the now the way we cats do. We are occupied with the present. If we are hungry, we eat. If we are tired, we sleep. If we are dirty with take a bath. If we feel happy, we play. If humans followed such a philosophy, which includes letting go of the past and not worrying about the future, would we live in a world of peace

“Maybe that’s all [Oscar] was: a companion, a sentient being who might accompany one person on their journey to the next world, or another through the grief of losing the one they loved—a kind of underworld of its own.”    Pg 189

  • During the end of life, both patient and family need support. Oscar provided that support in a subtle, gentle way. Everyone, cat and human, benefit from having someone with them as they take their last breath. What the benefit is, we don’t know. The person or cat takes that knowledge with them when they leave. But not knowing is alright for now.

“Animals like Oscar can teach us through their steadfastness, their patience, and their presence. They don’t have to be anywhere else except where they are. When Oscar visits his patients, he doesn’t care what time it is or whether there is somewhere else he would rather be. He is in the moment. It is so important to be able to spend time with someone with dementia—even if you think that they no longer know who you are.”  Pg 221

  • During their lives humans spend so much time and effort on things that ultimately are meaningless and so little time on things that are eternal. But that is who and what they are. Maybe one day people will slow down, take stock of their lives and loved ones and savor each moment. Seriously, take a look at the cat who stretches out asleep in the sunshine – you really want to do that too, don’t you? Then do it!

Dr. Dosa offers well heeded advice on end-stage dementia for caregivers. He provides multiple incidents of Oscar’s ability to tell when a person is going to die and how it affected the family members. It is a beautiful book and one full of hope and promise.

I probably won’t read this book again unless I need to (and hopefully we won’t need to – no offense intended, Oscar.) But we will keep it in our library just in case, that and the lovely portrait of Oscar on the cover.

rufus pawrufus pawrufus paw  the magnificiantReviewer: Rufus


Courtesy Hyperion Books
Dr. David Dosa is a geriatrician and an assistant professor of medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, both in Providence, Rhode Island.
Click here for more info on Oscar.