A Yorkie’s Tale: Lessons from a Life Well-Lived

David L. Heaney, illus. by Alexandra Tatu. CreateSpace, $19.99 paper (150p) ISBN 978-1-9759-9132-6
Heaney’s contemplative novel centers on a cast of endearingly self-aware anthropomorphic animals who face significant questions about life’s meaning. Niles, an elderly Yorkshire terrier, leads a carefree life with his human owners (“Mama” and “MAN”)—until he meets fruit rat (not a “common trash rat”) Nathaniel, who has witnessed something troubling: a family burying a cat in the ground. Knowing nothing of death, Niles and Nathaniel are educated on the matter by a knowledgeable possum named Leach. The animals embark on a journey to the sea, along the way encountering animals that impart powerful lessons about living mindfully and making peace with death. Throughout the story, Niles is visited by the spirit of a deceased cat, Deheune, who hints at a greater purpose in life—or perhaps beyond it: “Stay true to your quest now, but these words ne’er dismiss./ The life you were meant for is/ Not this, not this.” Heaney offers wisdom, poetry, and humor in his narrative. His distinctive animal characters—pictured in Tatu’s expressive watercolors—will resonate with middle grade readers. Ages 9–12. (BookLife)
Reviewed on: 07/09/2018
Release date: 10/01/2017
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