ASK: The boy says that the tenth good thing about Barney is that he is helping the flowers grow. Do you think that’s a “pretty nice job for a cat,” as he says? Why?
Grieving over the death of a pet is often a child’s first experience with loss. In The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, Judith Viorst takes a gentle but realistic approach to death. She captures the emotions and many of the questions children might have after losing a pet.
At a funeral held for Barney, the family cat, the family sings a song and shares good things about him. The child only shares nine good things about Barney but discovers the tenth good thing after he helps his dad plant seeds in the garden. This is a comfort for the little boy and he shares his tenth good thing about Barney with his mother: “Barney is in the ground and he’s helping to grow flowers. You know, that’s a pretty nice job for a cat.”