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*Buddy's Candle* by Bernie S. Siegel, illustrated by Mari Gayatri Stein
Buddy's Candle
by Bernie S. Siegel, illustrated by Mari Gayatri Stein
Ages 6+ 36 pages Trafford Publishing April 2008 Paperback    

Death, loss, grief, and acceptance are difficult concepts for anyone to get around, especially for children when the loss is a close companion or family member. With the issues of terminal illness in the young added to the mix, additional levels of emotional, mental, and physical traumas must be endured. Regardless of situation or age, death requires an understanding hard for many to grasp.

Buddy's Candle approaches death in an interesting way: through the experiences of a cancer-ridden young child, his dog (also sick with cancer), and a grown man’s amazing reiteration of his story of survival and loss when he was that young child so many years ago.

Upon a night of reflection with his son, a man tells his child about how he was very sick as child. Doctors had confirmed that his survival was going to require a miracle, and the child knew his lonely and painful days were coming to an end. He had always wanted a dog, and one afternoon Buddy appeared.

Buddy was sick with cancer, but the two cancer patients together were the perfect medicine for each other, and their respective illnesses took a turn for the better. Life did go on, and the bond between the boy and the dog became cemented in love as any two kindred hearts will. But Buddy’s body eventually gave out on him, and the boy had to face the death of his beloved companion. Such a loss is painful, particularly here with the amazing role that Buddy played in the miracle recovery of the boy. The grieving process and saying goodbye proved to be the most difficult, because the tears and loneliness of the individual left behind are sometimes hard to bear. How does anyone accept the passing of a loved one? How can the loss be understood better, making it easier to find peace and joy for the soul of the newly departed?

Dr. Bernie S. Siegel's touching story is appropriate not only for grieving individuals but also for those experiencing terminal illnesses in the young. The beautiful representation of death, grief, and heaven is age-appropriate, and while it is specific to animals, the jump to human comparison is easy. Fragile or not, readers beware - this is a tearjerker. For much younger children, ages six and below, the book may be too long and difficult to grasp.

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