CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 38 . . . . June 1, 2012
In Adrian Raeside's The Rainbow Bridge: A Visit to Pet Paradise, readers meet seven-year-old Rick and his beloved dog, Koko. They are enjoying an endless summer of play and adventures, but before long, the seasons change, and readers find out that Koko is old and sick. Koko passes away quietly one day, and Rick finds the loss hard to bear. Christmas is coming, and Rick believes it will be the worst Christmas ever without his dog to share it with! But on Christmas Eve, Rick receives a visit from a strange dog named Buster who is trying to steal Koko's squeaky bone. Rick begs Buster to let him come along to the Rainbow Bridge, and, although Buster declines, Rick jumps on his departing back for the ride to see where Koko has gone. Rick soon finds out that the Rainbow Bridge is a place pets go to wait for their owners to come claim them after the owners pass away. At the Rainbow Bridge, there are endless flying Frisbees, fields of catnip, and "nobody has to get brushed". Rick is comforted knowing that Koko is happy, and, when he finally returns home, he finds a wonderful surprise.
The reader feels compassion for Rick and his loss and will be relieved to be introduced to the Rainbow Bridge as the story continues. Raeside creates a kind home in this story for deceased animals, and, while he treats the subject with respect, there are still humorous moments throughout, such as finding out that Buster is a flatulent dog messenger. The illustrations also add fun to the story as they are cartoon drawings in which all the characters have big googly eyes. The story is a little text heavy, and, although aimed at children ages 5-8, it may be too long for some children. Overall though, it is a good addition for most libraries and will be particularly enjoyed by pet lovers as it makes a difficult topic accessible and a joy to read about.
Carla Epp is a librarian with Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg. MB.