My review originally posted on Feathered Quill Reviews
Aleta is a bright, free-spirited, young girl who lives with her parents and younger brother. She has two great friends she loves spending her time with, and even has aspirations on becoming a veterinarian someday. On a most terrible day, Aleta returns home to discover that the family dog, Kate, has died. Although Aleta does understand that animals can't possibly live forever, she is completely devastated over the loss of the dog, and doesn't want to accept the truth at first. As the days pass, Aleta goes through her own grief process that includes isolation so she doesn't have to talk about it, to anger and even pretending that Kate's ghost has returned to the family. Her pain also spills into school as she breaks down and cries in class, and Aleta doesn't want to participate in a memorial for Kate, nor does she want to play with her two best friends. Thankfully, with the help of her family, uncle, and close friends, Aleta is able to overcome her grief and turn her raw feelings into positive memories of Kate.
Author Wayne Wilson, coupled with illustrator Soud, present an admirable story on grief and pet loss for children that not only perfectly identifies many of the emotions children can experience during such an event, but also points out the equally valuable ways in which the healing process can, and does, occur. This story is eloquently written, flows well, and keeps the reader's attention throughout, while the illustrations are gently sprinkled amongst key points in the story, rather than having them included on every page, which is often seen in more simple picture books. The book stresses the importance of building on family support, and creating positive memories of times spent with a beloved pet, which can be equally transformed into human loss too. Kate, the Ghost Dog also includes a summarization of helpful tips on how to cope with pet loss that can be a useful tool for not only children, but also adults.