Every child who has ever had a pet will some day have to face the loss of that pet. Sometimes animals die of old age and sometimes their death is the result of an accident, as in the story of The Day Scooter Died.
Written by well-known Christian children’s author Kathleen Long Bostrom, this is a touching story about Mikey and his dog, Scooter. When Mikey is born, Scooter becomes “his” dog and the two are inseparable, spending hours playing catch-the-ball together. One day, when Mikey throws the ball too far, Scooter runs out into the street and is hit by a car. Mikey then has to deal with the loss of his best friend.
When he and his parents talk about Scooter, Mikey blames himself for Scooter’s death. His parents assure him it wasn’t his fault. Mikey asks if Scooter went to Heaven. Since no one is really sure of the answer to that question, his parents respond, “The Bible tells us that at the end of time, all of creation will be made new. All creation includes every living thing.” That seems to satisfy Mikey as he is reassured that God cares about all his creatures, even dogs.
The illustrations by Cheri Bladholm are life-like and provide a wonderful accompaniment to the text.
What I Like: I like a story about the death of a pet that children can relate to on a personal level. Even though this story features a boy and his dog, I think the story would still be appropriate for both girls and boys dealing with the loss of any type of pet.
What I Dislike: There were two things I didn’t like about the story. First, when Scooter dies, Mikey is very sad but there is no mention of any tears. When Scooter got hit by a car, Mikey’s dad wrapped him in his special blanket and took him to the vet. The text says, “Dad took Scooter to the animal hospital and came home with only the blanket. Dad washed it and dried it and folded it, and set it on Mikey’s bed. That night, Mikey could not sleep. He tried not to think about Scooter, but Scooter was all that he could think about. . . Mikey wrapped himself in the blanket, curled up on the floor next to his bed, and fell asleep.” I think Mikey would have cried himself to sleep, but that is never said.
Also, even though Mikey talks about Scooter’s death with his parents, this conversation doesn’t take place until several days later, after the night Mikey falls asleep while wrapped in the dog’s blanket. I think Mikey was left to carry around his pain and guilt longer than necessary; his parents should have talked to him about Scooter’s death the same day it happened.
Overall Rating: Very good.
Age Appeal: 4-8.
Publisher Info: Zonderkidz, 2005; ISBN: 0310709024; Hardcover, $9.99.