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Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
What strikes one most deeply while reading I Miss My Best Friend - a condensed tale of love, friendship, and loss – is Penelope Lagos’s decision, decisively well executed, of telling a most personal family story. This is not a generic rendition of “our family lost a beloved pet,” although it is indeed the book’s structural plot, objectively stated. However, one realizes upon the full reading of this beautifully illustrated text that this particular book is itself a lovely memorial to one beloved family member. The point being: this knowledge of personal investment and long-lived memory informs every page with the spirit to remember and to honor one’s special life companions. The message comes through loud and clear – if so very softly stated – that a family can and should continue to celebrate their “best friends” in many ways after they have gone.
That encouraging and enduring message indelibly embedded in I Miss My Best Friend, and so warmly captured in the illustrations of Sophie Maracchini, is told about a particularly charming dog, Cassius. That his life story is so concisely told within the pages of such a short children’s book does nothing to diminish the conviction that he was, indeed, a best friend to his entire adopted family. One sees it and believes it. Since the higher message, however, becomes how the children and the family might truly honor such a passing friend, Ms. Lagos’s personal revelations after Cassius’s passing instill such a living spirit in the reader, one is not apt to further grieve. And what a most inspiring message that is, especially for children.