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Dog Heaven

Dog Heaven

4.5 60
by Cynthia Rylant

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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 expansive fields where


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 expansive fields where dogs can run and run to delicious biscuits no dog can resist, Rylant paints a warm and affectionate picture of the ideal place God would, of course, create for man's best friend. The first picture book illustrated by the author, Dog Heaven is enhanced by Rylant's bright, bold paintings that perfectly capture an afterlife sure to bring solace to anyone who is grieving.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Pure, tender, lyrical without being overearnest, and deeply felt." - Kirkus - pointer review

"The reassuring story might comfort a child after the loss of a pet, but this pleasent, imaginary paradise will have a broader appeal to all animal lovers." - SLJ

"The bright acrylic paintings are Rylant's debut as a picture-book painter... they mesh beautifully with the innocence of the text a book for parent-child sharing." - Booklist

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Newbery winner Rylant, who debuted as an illustrator with her Everyday board books (1993), offers paintings and text in tribute to ``Dog Heaven.'' Here there are fields to run in, soft beds (made of clouds turned inside out) and ``angel children,'' because ``God knows that dogs love children more than anything else in the world.'' Rylant's childlike acrylic paintings-similar though less practiced than the work of Lucy Cousins-are filled with checkerboard steps, yellow daisies and pink stars. Whether she is aiming for whimsy, albeit self-consciously, or striving to present a genuinely comforting view of heaven is not entirely clear. God, for example, stands like an organ grinder at a biscuit machine, wearing a purple hat and sporting a white mustache. ``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.'' Many will think Rylant's vision appropriately warm and fuzzy; others will consider her on thin ice, psychologically and theologically. Dead animals invisibly return to earth ``for a little visit,'' a development likely to unsettle young mourners; told that dogs in Dog Heaven will be ``at the door'' when ``old friends show up,'' many children are going to worry about how those old friends got there. All ages. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
When dogs die according to Rylant, they go to dog heaven. Here they run and play and even have children to play with. Those dogs that had masters on earth, come down in invisible form to visit and make sure everything is all right. They even wait for their masters to join them in heaven. While the story seems simple and charming, it may well confuse young kids. Why are those kids in dog heaven, are there pet's ghosts really visiting them. The initial illustrating effort on the part of Rylant is primitive, and perhaps her talent lies more in the literary.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-Curl up with Rover and take a journey to Dog Heaven, where there are endless fields for running; clear lakes filled with teasing, honking ducks; and loving angel children playing everywhere. There are tasty biscuits shaped like cats and fluffy cloud beds for sleeping, 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. With their simple shapes and bold lines, the bright acrylic paintings have a childlike appeal. Brush strokes add texture and depth, while unusual color combinations-glowing mixes of oranges, purples, and greens-contribute to the peaceful mood. Canines become part of the landscape; tumbling hills and rounded surfaces reflect the rapid motion of exuberant pooches running breathlessly across endless fields, while pawprints shine brightly beside nighttime stars and decorate the sides of mountains. 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.-Joy Fleishhacker, New York Public Library
Stephanie Zvirin
Taking a less temporal approach to the subject of death than did Viorst in her homey tale "The Tenth Good Thing about Barney" (1971), Rylant sweeps beyond the here and now into a brightly colored place she calls Dog Heaven. 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, eat dog biscuits in cat shapes, 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. The bright acrylic paintings are Rylant's debut as a picture-book painter; reminiscent of the artwork of very young children, they mesh beautifully with the innocence of the text (which is actually less a story than a series of descriptions), with their vivid rainbow colors turning the sometimes scary mystery of dying into an adventure spent with happy, welcoming four-footed friends. A book for parent-child sharing and discussion.

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.00(w) x 12.00(h) x 0.36(d)
AD820L (what's this?)
Age Range:
3 - 5 Years

Meet the Author

As a child in West Virginia, Cynthia Rylant never dreamed of becoming a writer. In her free time, she devoured Archie comic books and paperback romances and enjoyed the outdoors. But after taking one college English class, she was, “hooked on great writing… I didn’t know about this part of me until I went to college-didn’t know I loved beautiful stories.” And one night, inspired by the Southern writer James Agee, she sat down and wrote When I Was Young in the Mountains. Named a Caldecott Honor Book and an ALA Notable Book, it was an instant success.

Since that night, Rylant hasn’t stopped creating wonderful books. Her stories explore friendship, love, grief, and other mysteries, and often draw on her memories of growing up in Appalachia. “I get a lot of personal gratification thinking of those people who don’t get any attention in the world and making them really valuable in my fiction-making them absolutely shine with their beauty.”

She lives with her many pets in the Pacific Northwest.

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Dog Heaven 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 60 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We received this book from a close friend when our 13 year old Australian Shepherd, Sweet Adeline died. The book had been passed to the friend when their dog died, by a friend of theirs. This same copy has been passed to a total of 5 families so far - each has written a brief note on the inside cover to the next family. We just passed it on to a friend a couple of weeks ago. We are also now putting a new copy in circulation by giving it to another friend. This time we included a photo of our pet and a note to the friend, as well as a note to "share it on" and to include a photo of their pet. It made it all the more special to know that the book has been passed on - from and to - others.
HarleySue More than 1 year ago
This is a great gift for any dog lover(s) who have recently lost a family pet. It really made me feel better in my sorrow and I have continued to gift it back to any friend/family member who is also going through grief of losing a 4 legged family member.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sarah was my 14 year old dog who was very ill and it was time to go to the hospital and get her checked out, they had to keep her over night the next day they called and said she was fine and that with drugs and rest she will get better and that we could come and get her in a few hours! When we were ready to get her they called and said that she had taken a turn for the worst, so i went down there and they brought her in the room on a stretcher because she could not walk, i then sat with her for awhile before then telling the vet that it was time for her to go to heaven! As they were preparing the final drugs to put her down i saw this book called dog heaven and while i was saying goodbye i read the story to her as i was balling the most teers in my life they put her down and that was the last book i read about dogs since her death!!! It was and is a great book and recommend it to anyone and everyone who has a dog or had a dog at somepoint!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book. It's immensely comforting for anyone who has ever loved a dog who died and went to "dog heaven". It's a simple story, presented as a child's picture book. It's superb for grief counseling for people of all ages I received a copy as a gift and gave a copy as a gift. It gets my highest recommendation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
9 years ago this summer our little Missy died after a period of declining health. She came through the local shelter and we guess that her life spanned 15 years. My dearest friend Cindy gave us Dog Heaven in memory of Missy. Since that time I have given it to friends when they have suffered the loss of their dog. These recipients run the gamut from the very young to others, like me who are forced to admit that we are not so very young. Most recently I gave it to a friend who serves with me on the board of directors for Asheville Humane Society. She and her husband have a wonderful veterinary surgery and for the first time in a long time they had to make a decision to euthanize one of their own dogs. In an e-mail response she said that while she grieved her loss she also wept tears of joy reading that homeless dogs will have a very special place in Dog Heaven. Far too soon after Missy's death, I had to make the decision to have her "brother" and my soul mate Winston euthanized. After I returned home, I sat on the floor with our German Shepherd Rex flanking one side while Rosie "the Basenji on steriods" flanked the other. As I read our book aloud to them, they both reached out to comfort me and each other. This is truly a classic piece with wonderful illustrations. If your friend is grieving the loss of a dog and you don't know what to do, give Dog Heaven.
GracieM More than 1 year ago
It's a wonderful childrens' story about where dogs go and what they do when they die. Lovely for younger children needing reassurance about a beloved pet. I liked it too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We saw this in our veterinarian's office and went out to get our own copy as soon as we could. It truly helped us with our three young children and explaining where our beautiful dog had gone. Thank you for a wonderful book!
Hailey Guinn More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book about the wonderful afterlife of our beloved dogs. A comforting read through and through.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My husband and I recently lost our 14 1/2 year old Husky, also named Tasha. She was our baby and we've been shattered. A dear friend gave this book to me and it has provided so much comfort. It may have been written with children in mind but it provides peace to all adults. This book helped us so much that I've ordered it for a friend of mine who just lost her dog. This will help anyone coping with the loss of a beloved canine family member.
luvthedalailama More than 1 year ago
This was a truly comforting book for our children when our beloved dog passed.  Highly recommend.  
Vapreon126 More than 1 year ago
best book ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! this tought me what dogs do and eat in heaven.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My friend gave this book to me when my dog died, i was soo sad. It mad me feel alot better.(i will never forget you rudy)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My dog Maui was put down on January 23, 2012. My aunt did everything she could to make me feel better because shes a school teacher i even made a stuffed animal Maui at build a bear. I have this book in real life too the images are amazing i found maui in one! I miss maui every night sometimes enof to cry. I think this though in the book it says ur dog comes back ro u so i think he lays at my feet of my bed all night. This book is my favorite picture book ever!!! You are never too old to read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the book, have read it before. But on my iPad I can't read it so it was a complete waste of my money. It is a very good book!
lynnelondon More than 1 year ago
I read this everytime I lose a dog to the Rainbow Bridge. I like to think it's like this for them. And more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My mother read this to me and my brother when our 14 year old mutt, Jessie, died of old age. I almost cried my eyes out! :( It was still a great book!
WhitneyMA More than 1 year ago
I can't count how many copies of this book I have purchased. Unfortunately that is because I give one to everyone - child to adult, that loses their beloved dog. The book really helps... very sad, but in a good way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Brought me to tears after losing one of our dogs. Reading it to my daughter now to help her understand.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for my daughter shortly after we had to put our dog to sleep. I read this story years ago and thought it would be a comfort to anyone who had lost a dog. My daughter loved the book even though it made her cry. She was comforted by the images put forth by the author. My daughter is in her mid 30's but I think anyone who loses a dog would benefit from this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a woman in my late 40's, this book was given to me by a friend, when my best friend, my dog, passed away this year. While written with sentimentality, the words contained on the pages of this book, along with the sweetest illustrations, most certainly can touch the hearts of all ages, particularly if you are grieving the loss of a loved pet. Since it helped me so much with my own grieving process, I have also purchased copies and given them to friends who have also lost their beloved pets too, and they have all been very touched by the writings of Cynthia Rylant in Dog Heaven.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely perfect for anyone going through the loss of a pet. It's great for both children, adults, and families together. It's a very sweet book that is sure to touch everyones' heart.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have bought this book for my niece and also a copy for my brother, and will continue to buy it for anyone I know that suffers through the broken heart of losing their dog. I also bought the other book, "Cat Heaven" for another niece who lost her little cat. She was delighted and it really helped her to feel better. I was irritated when I saw the critic's review about the book, because in my opinion he is a knucklehead! These two books are wonderful and soothing and a much-needed item for anyone who has lost a beloved pet. It is perfect for children and adults alike! God bless the author!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When you lose a beloved pet, it's often hard to grieve publicly, because many people don't understand the attachment or don't think the loss of a pet merits grief. This book was a godsend to my family 10 years ago when we lost our Sally, and since then I've given at least 6 copies away to friends who suffered similar losses. It says what is so hard to put into words, validates their grief, and provides comfort. Just a wonderful book.