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Book Details:

Book Title:  Dear Brave Friend by Leigh Ann Gerk
CategoryMiddle-Grade Non-Fiction (8 to 12) ,  49 pages
Genre: Self-Help
PublisherGolden Harvest Publishers
Release date:   August 2019
Content Rating:  This non-fiction, self-help book is rated G. Appropriate for all audiences.
Book Description:

This gentle and heartwarming story captures the love between a boy and his dog, and the sadness that follows after his cherished dog passes away. Written in the form of a letter from the dog to the boy, the letter shares relatable, real life examples of how the boy (and therefore anybody who has lost a dear pet) may be feeling and suggestions on what he can do to help himself get through this most difficult time. The letter also touches on simple acts of kindness that can follow the reader throughout his or her lifetime. The message in this story is applicable to young and old, girl or boy, and to any family pet that has stolen your heart. Story starters, drawing pages, and a place to add pictures of your own beloved pet are also included in the back of the book.
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My Review
Dear Brave Friend is a sweet, emotional children's book that touches on the subject of grieving a pet who has passed. It's written as a letter from a dog who has passed to his little boy. The letter offers words of reassurance and ways for the little boy to deal with his grief. Whether he's sad or feeling alone, or maybe even angry about how unfair it is to lose a beloved pet, the letter he receives offers advice for channeling those feelings in a proper way.
As a kid, I never experienced the death of a pet, but I did have to give away a cat we had once, and that just about broke my heart. I remember having Polaroid pictures of my cat, and writing things like, "I miss you" and "I love you forever" on them as a way to remember. 
As an adult, I had to put down one of my cats a few years ago, and it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. His name was Goober, and he was my sweet ginger baby.

And while I never received a letter from my beloved kitty, I do believe he sent me a sign a year or so after, around the anniversary of his death. I was out walking one evening, and I had the flashlight on on my phone so I could see. Out of nowhere, an orange cat appeared in front of me and sat for a moment. It meowed at me, and when a car turned onto the street, it disappeared, and I couldn't find it, even though I searched. And I never saw this orange cat again, even though I would walk the same route almost daily for months. Seeing this random orange cat helped me with my grief, as strange as that may seem.
Dear Brave Friend is definitely a helpful book to have on hand. While written more for older children (8+), I think even mature younger readers (even 6+, I'd say) might be able to understand and benefit from this book. I would recommend it to anyone who has ever lost a pet, or owns a pet and may someday have to say goodbye.
5 stars.

Guest Post
Children and Adults Grieve Differently

 Through my work as a pet loss counselor, I have been asked by numerous concerned parents, “How do I know if my child is grieving?” It can be difficult, and sometimes impossible, to recognize whether your child is grieving or how he is grieving.  As adults, we are expecting tears, crying, and verbally sharing feelings; we may believe that if our child is not visibly grieving, they are not grieving. This is not true.  Grief is the internal response and mourning is the external response.  Children may not show grief on the outside while crying on the inside.

Children also tend to grieve in “bursts” because they cannot seem to tolerate grief for long periods of time.  Here is a helpful explanation I once read: “As adults we have one foot in grief and one foot on the outside, but kids jump in and out of grief.” Depending on your child’s age and level of understanding, grief can be expressed in different ways.  One child may act out and another may become withdrawn and silent.  One minute your child may be happily coloring and the next minute he’s acting out and throwing his crayons.

If your child or teen does not verbalize their feelings, it’s so important to remember that this does not mean they aren’t missing their beloved pet.  Never force a conversation, but you can encourage and provide opportunities for meaningful conversations and answer their questions, even the difficult ones.

As adults, we might think it would be better to stop talking about the newly departed pet in front of our kids in an attempt to protect them. We think we need to hide the toys and food bowls and act like the life we shared with our treasured pet never occurred.  Please don’t pretend the death didn’t happen.  Send a clear message to your children that talking about feelings is encouraged.  Say your pet’s name out loud and share lots of stories.  If it brings your family comfort to leave your pet’s things out, then by all means leave them out.  There are no tried-and-true rules on grief.  Everyone grieves differently; do what works for you and your family.

The loss of a pet is often the first significant loss a child experiences.  Take this opportunity to teach your child healthy grieving.  Grieving is both taught and learned.  As parents, it is our job to teach our children how to grieve; you are their role model.  We can’t protect our children from death or loss.  Somewhere along their life, they will experience it.  If they are not taught how to grieve as a child in the comfort of their parent’s embrace, they may experience it alone when they become adults.

Be truthful with your children.  Of course, as parents, you know your child better than anyone, so please be mindful of that and choose your words based on age appropriateness.   Wording is especially important when talking about pet loss with children. For example, if you tell your child that “Lucy” is going “to be put to sleep” then your child is going to associate going to sleep with dying.  Sometimes, again in an attempt to protect, parents may tell their child that their pet ran away instead of dying.  Now their child is worried about their pet; are they cold, hungry, does a bad man have him, etc. A child’s imagination of what happened is often much bigger and scarier than the truth.

If you must have your pet euthanized, it is best to give your child a choice if they want to be present or not (again, you know your child best).  Being present allows your child to see a peaceful ending to their pet’s life vs. what they might imagine.  This is also an opportunity for them to see what their family does when faced with such sadness.  Don’t hold back the tears.  Cry in front of your children if you need to – this teaches them that mommies and daddies get sad too, and it is okay to cry. 

Throughout their lives, our beautiful pets are always teaching us about important things like love, laughter, forgiveness, and trust.  How ironic it is that their last departing gift, the hardest gift to receive, was the opportunity to teach our children how to grieve.  


 Meet the Author:

Leigh Ann Gerk MA, LPC has been in the counseling field for over eleven years. She is certified in Pet Loss & Grief Companioning and the founder and owner of Mourning to Light Pet Loss providing individual and family counseling for anyone grieving the loss of a pet. She currently offers 3 free pet loss support groups in Northern Colorado and is excited to branch out and offer more. Having grown up on a farm, Leigh Ann's childhood playmates included baby calves, horses, bunnies, dogs, and 32 cats that set up house in a boxcar that also served as her playhouse. This upbringing introduced her, at a very young age, to the human-animal bond and instilled in her a deep understanding of, and love for, this extraordinary relationship. Leigh Ann and her husband, Andy, live in Loveland, Colorado, and are the proud parents of identical twin daughters, Heather and Heidi. Their family is made complete by their first grandchild and their cherished therapy dog, Gracie. Visit Leigh Ann online at

connect with the author:  website facebook goodreads

Tour Schedule:

Jan 18 – Nighttime Reading Center – book review / giveaway
Jan 19 – Book World Reviews – book review / author interview
Jan 19 - Laura's Interests – book review / guest post / giveaway
Jan 20 – Cover Lover Book Review – book review / giveaway
Jan 20 - Carpinello's Writing Pages - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Jan 21 – Rockin' Book Reviews – book review / guest post/ giveaway
Jan 22 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
Jan 25 – I'd Rather Be At The Beach – book review / giveaway
Jan 26 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Jan 26 - The Momma Spot - book review
Jan 27 – Reading is My Passion – book review
Jan 27  - Reading Authors Networkbook review / giveaway
Jan 28 – Bound 4 Escape – book review / giveaway
Jan 29 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
Feb 1 –Books, Tea, Healthy Me – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Feb 1 - Welcome To MLM Opinion’s Reviews  - book review
Feb 2 – Splashes of Joy – book review / guest post / giveaway
Feb 2 - Library of Clean Reads – book review / giveaway
Feb 2 - Lisa's Reading – book review / giveaway
Feb 3 – Adventures of a Traveler’s Wife – book review / author interview / giveaway
Feb 3 - Pick a Good Book - book review / author interview / giveaway
Feb 4 – Pawesome Wisdom – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 4 - I'm Into Books – book review / giveaway
Feb 4 - Deborah-Zenha Adams - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Feb 5 – Stephanie Jane – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 5 - The Pen and Muse Book Reviews  - book review / giveaway
Feb 5 - Because I said so and other adventures in Parentingbook review / giveaway

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