Rainbow Bridge

Aftershock. Aug. 2021. 120p. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781949028676.
Gr 4-8–Based on “The Rainbow Bridge,” an anonymous poem often shared with grieving pet owners that imagines a paradise for deceased animals, this graphic novel opens on a verdant meadow where a chubby corgi named Rocket plays with the abundant balls and bones strewn across the landscape. Things are odd here—he can’t find his boy, Andy, and his paws are slightly see-through, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A group of shadowy figures interrupt his revelry, endangering his afterlife; readers soon discover that these wraiths are unloved pets who want to make every other creature as miserable as them. Back in the living world, Andy is rudderless without Rocket. Though he’s running late to freshman orientation, Andy takes a detour to Rocket’s grave, only to be sucked into the canine afterlife, where chance encounters with former pets lead him to his beloved doggo. Here, all pets can communicate with Andy, and the animals are gigantic (Andy can ride Rocket!). The pace of the plot absolutely flies, bringing the two best friends swiftly together. Captured in vibrant colors, the world and its characters are expressive and lovely—in fact, it’s everything an animal lover hopes awaits their pets in the afterlife. The main characters appear to be white; Andy is part of the LGBTQ+ community.
VERDICT The ending leaves plenty of room for a sequel to this satisfying read, which will please readers. A recommended first purchase.

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