The End of Something Wonderful: a practical guide to a BACKYARD FUNERAL by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic, illustrated by George Ermos,

The End of Something Wonderful: a practical guide to a BACKYARD FUNERAL
by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic, 
illustrated by George Ermos
review copy from Sterling Publishing

There is a cheeky humor to The End of Something Wonderful: a practical guide to a BACKYARD FUNERAL that some readers may find upsetting. Personally, as a parent who grew up without pets and said agreed to almost every pet my children wanted (cats, dogs, box turtles, guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, birds, hermit crabs and fish) I would have appreciated this book over the course of the many pet deaths experienced in our home, from the cannibalistic hermit crabs to the tumor-burdened rats and the eunthanizing of our first, beloved dog who had bladder cancer. My kids, up until they were teenagers, never cried when a pet died. And I was ok with that - most kids haven't developed that level of empathy. That said, I do believe that it is important to properly acknowledge the end of life, the end of something wonderful, as the titles aptly refers to it. And, humor aside, this book truly IS a practical guide. We had funerals and burials, but, not being religious and being unexperienced, my husband and I could have done better and this book would have helped us.
Lucianovic, a journalist and author of a non-fiction book for adults about understanding picky eaters, takes readers through the process of dealing "something that was once alive but isn't any longer," your "Something Dead," which may be a guinea pig, fish, turtle or pill bug. This comes off as humorous, however, there is always that one kid who wants to have a funeral for a bug and this book recognizes that. First, you must find a place to put your Something Dead. Ernos's illustrations match Lucianovic's winky tone, showing the unfortunate side effects of putting a dead hamster in a jack-in-the-box (and a bread box, and a litter box) before landing on a shoe box.
Lucianovic goes on to suggest including something the Something Dead liked in life in the box then moves on to digging the hole. In an aside, she warns readers not to, "get excited and try to bury something that isn't dead. Not only is it rude, but it's also annoying when the Something Dead walks away before the backyard funeral is even over." And, of course, she notes that a "burial at sea" might be appreciated by a fish...

She goes on to suggest ways to make the burial meaningful - sharing stories, listening to songs, crying. In a sweet aside, she assures readers that "crying because of how much you loved your Something Wonderful before it became Something Dead is not bad or embarrassing at a backyard funeral or at any other time. In fact, crying can often make you feel a little bit better. Even if it might not seem like it at the time." She then - wisely, and again with humor - tells readers not to dig up their Something Dead to check on it. This may seem gross to adults, but kids really do think about this stuff and wonder! And it also can open up a conversation about what happens to the Something Dead now that it is dead. 

She ends with sweet ways to readers to commemorate and remember their Something Wonderful now that it is Something Dead, like reading to it or talking to it. I especially appreciate this as we, as a society in America, don't really deal with death that well or openly. Living and working in a largely Chicanx community, I have come to have a deep appreciation for Dia de los Muertos and the ways in which the dead are remembered and honored.

And, of course, the end of Something Wonderful can also make room for a new Something Wonderful.

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