Pippy and Beth
Written by Graham Denny
This book explores the devastating issue of loss confronting a family when a pet dies. Denny writes a powerful tale to illustrate that journey of a child named Beth, the young protagonist we meet at the beginning of the story who shares a wonderful relationship with her dog, Pippy. The reader is introduced to Beth’s sad family at the vet’s office where they have brought Pippy to be put to sleep. Beth is distraught and has a tummy ache from eating too much of the ice cream at the fancy restaurant her parents have brought her to in an effort to distract her. Once back at home, Beth kisses Pippy’s picture and finally falls asleep.
Beth is soon awakened by a scratching sound. At first she thinks it is Valerie and Shelley, those horrible twins who make her life miserable at school. As she yells at them to go away, Beth realizes that Pippy is in the room and that he is TALKING TO HER! He warns her to hurry and leads her out the sliding door into the night. Pippy introduces Beth to other talking animal friends including sparrows, mice, a fox, a badger, rabbits and two cats. All of these are dressed eloquently like humans and act as if they were human. Beth finally gets the courage to ask Pippy if he knows that he has died. He explains that of course he does and continues to lead her through the woods to a grassy clearing. After eating a huge breakfast, they reach the top of a hill shrouded in mist. There is music, dance and laughter as Pippy walks down to the other side after saying his goodbyes.
Beth is saddened. What does all this mean? She does not know how to go on. But her parents have a solution, and Beth will eventually find the strength and courage to deal with Pippy’s death and all her other problems at school.
This book is a wonderful read as simply a love story between a child and pet, but it is such a valuable resource to help a family cope with loss turning that tragedy into a vehicle to make themselves stronger. Parents and teachers can use it as a guide for discussion on a very difficult topic.
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