Author: Judith Viorst
Illustrator: Erik Blegvad
My rating: 3.5 of 5
Barney, the boy’s cat, just died, and the boy is very sad. His mom suggested that he think up ten good things about Barney to say at the funeral. It might make him feel better. So he thinks and thinks–and comes up with nine really nice things he remembers about his cat. But he just can’t think of the tenth one. He talks to his mom, his neighbor, and his dad about it. Finally, while talking with his dad about the cycle of life and the beauty of new life coming from seeds planted in the ground, the boy realizes just what his tenth good thing is.
Judith Viorst is an children’s book author that I admire greatly (think amazing stories like Lulu and the Brontosaurus and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day). I don’t think I could claim that The Tenth Good Thing About Barney is my favorite of her books, but it was a good story. This book is somewhere between a picture book (with some great old-school black and white pictures) and an easy-reader, but I think it’s one that would be best read aloud and talked about afterward. I mean, it’s dealing with some really difficult topics–the loss of a special pet, dealing with grief, understanding how death is a part of life. It’s not all somber and dark though, either; the boy learns that his pet will help the flowers grow even more beautifully. I guess what I’m saying is that The Tenth Good Thing About Barney is a good book to talk about but it’s also one that might seem a bit traumatic for sensitive children. Parental discretion is recommended.