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The Tenth Good Thing About Barney
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The Tenth Good Thing About Barney

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  1,152 ratings  ·  152 reviews
My cat Barney died this Friday. I was very sad. My mother said we could have a funeral for him, and I should think of ten good things about Barney so I could tell them...

But the small boy who loved Barney can only think of nine. Later, while talking with his father, he discovers the tenth—and he begins to understand.

Paperback, 32 pages
Published September 30th 1987 by Aladdin (first published 1971)
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4.26  · 
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 ·  1,152 ratings  ·  152 reviews

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May 29, 2009 rated it really liked it

When you raise a child, or teach young children, there is bound to come a time when a beloved pet dies. Given that the life cycle of animals is short, it is often the first death a child will experience. This story is first person narrative of a young boy trying to comprehend and come to terms with the death of his cat, Barney.

They’ve decided to have a funeral and, the night before, the boy’s mother tells him to think of ten good things about Barney.

At the funeral, attended by both parents and n
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids
I love Juith Viorst's funny books, about the frustrations of being a kid. But I treasure this one, about death.

A beloved cat dies, and it's sad. The viewpoint character is a little kid, and it is tough for the kid to understand how to handle grief (I am honestly not sure about the gender of the child, nor does it matter). Mom suggests that the kid make a list of all the things that made Barney the cat special. Both parents are clear that it's ok to be sad, that the loss is real and that they are
Mar 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: MAYBE to parents who want to help their kids through a death
Shelves: children-and-ya
I finally read this book after years and years of hearing it hyped as the perfect book to help a child deal with the loss of a pet, so I expected a lot.

It's not a bad book. I've always liked Judith Viorst's wry voice that seems to capture children's unsure moments so perfectly, and ...Barney has a lot of that.

The particular details of the story are even good -- I love that the boy's mother wraps Barney in a piece of cloth before they bury him. I love that the boy's best friend attends the funera
Aug 12, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens-books
OK, so my kiddo enjoyed this book, but we won't be reading it again. I have two main issues with the book: 1) Dealing with the death of a pet, which is sometimes really hard for kids. Perhaps we read it to soon (he's 5), but it's not the easiest topic to cover gently & tactfully...thankfully Viorst did a decent (not stellar) job. This brings me to point 2) I dislike that she is so wishy-washy about Heaven, God, and Christianity in general. I get that she has personal convictions (or lacks th ...more
The classic picture book of a little boy who's cat has died. He's having a hard time and his mother tells him to think of 10 good things about Barney, his cat. So he begins to think. Here's what he comes up with:

Barney was:
Only once ate a bird
It was sweet to hear him purr in my ear.
Sometimes he slept on my belly and kept me warm.

But the boy falters. That's only nine. He can't think of anything else. His father is going to work in the garden and invites him to c
Amy Layton
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
This is a beautiful book depicting the struggles of losing a beloved pet and also coming to terms with the circle of life.  The family comes together of support for the son, who loved Barney the most.  Now that he's gone, the son is bereft, and doesn't feel so much like doing anything.  The Tenth Good Thing About Barney has amazing illustrations which only add to the wonderful, memorial nature of the book.  Overall, this is a genuine book that strives to ease the pain of those going through simi ...more
Mar 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is another good resource for helping children understand the concrete and biological aspects of death. It is about a pet, so doesn't directly address loss of a person (which can be a pro and a con), but it is positive about expressing feelings about a loss (both sadness and good memories.) It does touch on the idea of Heaven, but doesn't really take a stance on it: "We don't know too much about Heaven, he told Annie. We can't be absolutely sure that it's there." The book starts up once ...more
Randie D. Camp, M.S.
A young boy experiences the death of a pet cat, Barney. His mother suggests that he comes up with a list of ten good things about Barney to share during his burial. he comes up with nine. The boy goes through many different emotions and with the help of his father, he is able to come up with the tenth thing.

Viorst does a nice job of capturing the many emotions and questions that a child might have when experiencing the death of a pet. I also think the advice of the parents given in this book mig
Oct 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: children
When the family cat dies, Mom tells her son to think of ten good things about Barney in tribute. He can only think of nine, and struggles through the book to come up with a tenth thing. Generally, this book is a nice idea for kids when their pet dies. Unfortunately, that tenth thing might not be so comforting to some children. And if you are going with the concept of cat heaven for your kids, this book will not support that idea at all. So be sure you read this first to determine the appropriate ...more
Feb 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
We just lost our cat and this was a recommended book to check out. There really could not have been a better book to check out. We too plan to bury our cat in the yard under a tree. I have not yet read the book to our daughter (nearly 5) as I wanted to check the book out for myself - and to be honest I was a puddle of tears at the library flipping through. I think now that things have settled a little bit - we are ready to read this great little book as a family. In addition the illustrations ar ...more
Bree Johnson
Apr 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: authors
Judith Viorst: Judith was born February 2, 1931. She is an American author, newspaper journalist, and psychoanalysis researcher. She is perhaps best known for her children’s literature, such as The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, and the Alexander series of short picture books which includes Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. She is a 1952 graduate of the Newark College of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey.
Oct 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Classic book about pet death. Just a tad too old for Natalie (3 years old), but would be more suitable if we had a direct need for it. Our cats are getting up there, so I like the idea of introducing this type of book occasionally before the crisis.
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 5-stars
Every time I read this I say I won't cry, and every single time I end up a filthy liar.
Jaymie Christensen
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This book is about a young boy whose cat, Barney, has died. He is very sad about it, and isn’t able to do the things he normally likes to do, like eat dessert and watch TV. He just keeps thinking about Barney, and how sad he is that he has died. The boy’s mother tells him that they can have a funeral for Barney in the morning, and asks him to try to think of ten good things about Barney to share at the funeral. The next day, they have a funeral in the backyard, but the boy can only think of nine ...more
Emmaline MacBeath
A little boy's cat has died. He is very sad. They have a funeral for the cat. The boy's mother asks him to think of ten things about the cat, Barney, to tell at the funeral. The boy can only think of nine. The boy has cookies with his friend Annie after the funeral and they argue over whether the cat is in heaven. The boy's dad says maybe he and maybe he isn't. Then he shows the boy about planting seeds in the garden and how the cat will become a part of the garden now that it is in the ground. ...more
Cameron Kisselbaugh
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
It is a tricky situation for a book to deal with the subject of death whether it be a pet or human, but I find that this book does it with grace. Using simple illustrations by Erik Blegvad, Judith Virost has successfully navigated this touchy subject. This story is centered around the death of a cat named Barney, and its owner is having a difficult time coming to terms with the loss. The plot guides the reader through the child's recovery and ends with a very appropriate ending that would be sui ...more
Megan (ReadingRover)
This is a children's book meant to express what it's like to deal with the death of a beloved pet. It wasn't bad but it wasn't great. It was ok. I like that it wasn't set up with a religious angle in mind. I think it can be hard for young children to grasp ideological concepts when dealing with grief. Some are ok with it and that's great but for the ones who don't get it there should be a simpler answer. However I also think that this book runs a bit low in the feelings department. I guess could ...more
Mar 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Tenth Good Thing About Barney is a book about a young boy whose cat passes away. Understandably, he's incredibly sad and really cannot function because he is burdened with grief. His parents hold a funeral for Barney, and the boy thinks of 10 nice things to say about Barney. He can only think of 9 to start. When his friend comes over, they have a debate about life after death. And with a little help from his father, the boy gets a perspective on death and figures out the 10th good thing abou ...more
Megan Laird
Feb 06, 2014 rated it liked it
The young boy's cat, Barney, passed away and the family was to hold a funeral for the special animal. When his mother prompted him to say ten good things about his beloved cat, the boy only stated nine, not being able to think of a tenth. After hearing wise words from his father, the boy finally was able to tell his mother the tenth good thing about his dear cat when she tucked him in that night.

Judith Viorst and Erik Blgvad did a decent job at depicting a child's feelings towards losing someon
Linda Lipko
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Barney was a cat who died who died on a Friday. His young owner is sad, VERY, VERY sad. Working through his grief, wise beyond his years, the young boy, remembers the good things about Barney.

As he cannot sleep, eat or play, his overactive mind and his broken heart remember Barney. And, such is life! The joy and the pain of gaining and then losing.

Finally falling asleep thinking of nine good things of Barney, the next day at the funeral for Barney, there is a remembrance that

Barney was brave
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
I love Judith Viorst's books. They are so poignant, and sincere, and she often pulls no punches, even with sensitive and difficult topics. Her stories are usually filled with wit and wisdom, even those told from a child's perspective, like this one.

This story handles the death of a pet with sensitivity, but also a frankness that shows that life and death are all a normal part of our life cycle and our world. Our girls were sad after we read this, but we talked about how we should love our pets
Judith Viorst is an children’s book author that I admire greatly (think amazing stories like Lulu and the Brontosaurus and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day). I don’t think I could claim that The Tenth Good Thing About Barney is my favorite of her books, but it was a good story. This book is somewhere between a picture book (with some great old-school black and white pictures) and an easy-reader, but I think it’s one that would be best read aloud and talked about afterw ...more
Amy Rae
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Reread this one yesterday and cried. The Tenth Good Thing About Barney is my ideal book about death and grieving. It's quiet and gentle, and it provides a beautiful way to begin to remember the good things about a person or pet, not just the fact that they're gone. I'm twenty-six years old, and I still make ten-good-things lists in my mind when a person or pet passes away.

I've seen complaints that the book's dialogue regarding Heaven makes it inappropriate for Christian audiences, and I couldn't
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
It's always hard when something upsetting happens in a child life. I find books can be so comforting at times like loosing a pet or a loved one. I like the story and how it circles back to growing a tree. We planted plants for each of our dogs who died and my kids really liked it (although we didn't bury the dogs so it's just a tree in their honor)

The one thing I didn't like and why I didn't use this book when our pets died is the questioning of heaven. I get it. We do not know a lot about heav
Mar 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Summary: Barney was a cat. He died last Friday. And everyone was sad. They did what most people do when a cat they like dies. They had a funeral. And then they tried to think of good things about him. They wanted to remember him as he was; and they thought about some other things, too. Whenever a cat dies, or a dog, or a bird, or any friend, it can be a little like this story about Barney. Since dying is as usual as living, it's good to know about him.
Thanks Goodreads!

Reading Level: 1st- 4th g
Nicole Godinez
Mar 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Judith Viorst, possibly could have written the most saddest book I have ever read. Its a good book though but so so sad. The narrator of this book is a little boy who's pet cat Barney passed away.
He can only think of nine good things about Barney, until the day after the funeral, when he spends the day in the garden with his father. The plot is extremely simple and spare, but the book depicts grieving, and so we understand just how broken-hearted the little boy is, and how much he loved his cat
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who has grieved the death of a loved one
This is one of the best books about death, not just the death of a beloved animal companion, that I've ever read. The references and illustrations are a little dated -- lovely, just the same. But the rituals and philosophies described in the text -- thinking of ten good things about the deceased, realizing people think about death differently and some people choose to believe in a heaven and some people can only believe in what they have seen upon this earth, the realities of death and the circl ...more
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
A book for teaching children about the circle of life and how our pets go back into the soil and help new plants and animals live. The pictures are subdued and simple, but the story of a boy sad about his pet dying doesn't invite much fancy illustration. Thankfully, it's not a huge tear-jerker since the story starts after the cat has died. I could use this as an introduction to composting and the recycling of nutrients for my students.
LInda L
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this a long time ago and at the time thought it was the dearest, most touching children's story I had ever read. Recently, I re-visited it and I must say my opinion has not changed. What a wonderful way to introduce a child to losing a pet and preparing them for life. I have read other Judith Viorst writings -- poetry, etc. -- and loved them all. Don't know why I never reviewed this before, but it is truly wonderful.
Kim Nelson
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lovely simple illustrations with muted colors. Barney the cat has died which leaves his family sad. For the funeral, a suggestion of saying 10 good things about Barney might help but the child can't think of 10. During an argument with his sister over whether Barney is in Heaven or in the ground, the dad takes his son out to the garden to plant flowers and in doing so gives a lovely interpretation of death.
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Judith Viorst is the author of several works of fiction and non-fiction for children as well as adults. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, her most famous children's book, was first published in 1972 and has since sold over two million copies. Ms. Viorst received a B.A. in History from Rutgers University, and she is also a graduate of the Washington Psychoanalytic Institu ...more