Without once mentioning the word ``death,'' Griffith manages to address the subject deftly in this subtle picture book. An old lady and her elderly pet sit together, each dreaming of being young again and frolicking in sunny meadows. Something pulls them out of their reveries, returning the one to her rocking chair, the other to her spot on the floor nearby. One day they don't come back, but meet in the meadow and together ``run straight up into the sky.'' There's a wonderful sense of freedom and release in the scenario that Griffith delineates, and for those who agree with her conclusions about death, this could be a very comforting, even inspiring, book. First-time illustrator Barnet's colored-pencil drawings are filled with light; their misty, underdone approach helps underscore the dream metaphor. Ages 5-up. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-An elderly woman sits and dreams of her girlhood. Nearly blind and deaf, her dog dozes beside her, also dreaming of younger days and feeling an almost irresistible urge to ``go on running and running.'' Always, though, the dog remembers to return to the present. Then comes the day that the mistress calls Frisky to join her in a meadow, ``And together they run straight up into the sky.'' This is a pleasant and benign view of dying as a gradual dreaming away of reality, a slow diminishing of the life force. Although children will be reassured by the peacefulness of the old lady's last days, spent in the tender care of a loving daughter and the company of a loyal pet, they may also be confused. Could they too lose themselves in dreams that become actuality? This book will best be experienced one on one, reread to sort out fantasy from reality, oldsters from youngsters, and followed with questions and discussion. Lovely colored-pencil drawings full of sunlight and flowers express the exuberance of youth and the peaceful stillness of great age.-Meg Stackpole, Rye Free Reading Room, NY
Whiling away most of her days in a dreamy state between sleep and wakefulness, the old lady Jane rests in her rocking chair with her dog, Frisky, at her side. But Frisky is also very old, and no longer lives up to her name; instead, she, too, spends most of her days dozing. Barnet's lush art exhibits exquisite finesse with colored pencils as her refined lines, exuberant colors, and rich shadings on textured paper strikingly depict the "two old ladies" and their dreams. In her reverie, Jane recalls herself as a young girl running carefree through a meadow. Similarly, Frisky dreams of her puppy days when she could run across grassy fields free from pain. She yearns to stay in her dream paradise but always returns to reality at the old lady's call. Finally the day comes when the two aged companions join each other in their dream meadow, running together over the grass, among the golden flowers, and into the sky. More than telling the story of a loyal dog who patiently postpones death until her mistress is ready to die, too, Griffith promotes young readers' understanding of aging and the natural cycle of life and death.