One of the first experiences with death and dying children may have is that of a pet.
When local artist Tamara Gould wrote this children’s book, she was an adult. It was more to alleviate her own grief over the loss of Chango, her Chow Chow, than to help a child through the process. Fortunately it does both.
“I’m not a writer,” Gould says. “Here I was, washing two dog bowls when I only had one dog. I just couldn’t stop crying.” In her search for something to take away the pain, she turned to Greek mythology and found the story of the huntress, Diana, who fell in love with Orion. Her brother, Apollo, tricked Diana into hitting a sea monster far off in the ocean. Not knowing it was her lover, she killed Orion. To immortalize him, she raised him to the stars with his dogs, the “dog stars.”
“I needed that context and wrote the story in 15 minutes.” She paused, then, “But it took me years to illustrate. I have hundreds of children’s drawings,” she laughed.
Gould also researched children’s books about death and dying and found that the stories help them make that transition. “My book is abstract and magical enough to touch on that,” she said.
Her decision to self-publish was thanks to a printer friend who advised her to keep it simple and in black and white. She registered the book with the Library of Congress and decided not to go with a publisher. “I had read and edited it hundreds of times and changed maybe only two words.”
Chango’s Journey to the Stars is a slim chapbook, only 28 pages, but illustrates how “to go gently into that dark night,” and, like Chango, who loved chasing tennis balls, travel up to the stars.
He must have fallen asleep, because when he awoke, he found himself surrounded by darkness—
And millions and billions of sparkling silvery balls! He ran and he ran, chasing them left and right, and catching one every once in a while. He was as happy as any dog could ever be.”
I won’t give away the last page.
To purchase the book: contact Tamara at email@example.com. We also have some at the Messenger Mountain News office, 1111 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., down Froggy’s driveway and right into the parking lot.