Author: Elizabeth Partridge
Illustrator: Lauren Castillo
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books
Audience: Ages 5-13
Summary: Big Cat Pepper belongs to a loving family. Pepper grows old and dies. During his burial the little boy worries if Pepper will be afraid in the deep soil but his Mama tells him that Pepper’s Spirit is forever—it can fly, fly, fly. The little boy deals with the sadness and loneliness caused by the loss of his cat. As time passes the little boy comes to the understanding that although Pepper is gone the memories live on in his heart.
Literary elements at work in the story:
Genre: Fiction-Cat; Fiction-Death
Setting: Pepper—a cat belongs to a loving family and the little boy has to deal with the issue of his beloved cat dying.
Characterization: The little boy struggles to deal with the issue of death and what it means for the Spirit of his cat to live on in his heart.
Plot: As Pepper grows old and dies, the tragedy of death is experienced through the eyes of a little boy. The little boy is grieved but is reassured by his Mama that Pepper’s Spirit is forever. The little boy comes to the realization of what this means.
Theme: The loss of a loved one causes sadness and loneliness. As he is flooded with the memories of Pepper, he knows that Pepper lives in his heart.
Point of View: This narrative is told in the first person from the perspective of a little boy whose cat has died.
Style: The story is told in rhyme. The last word that ends each sentence rhymes.
Gender: No gender stereotyping although the story is about the experience of a little boy.
Race: Illustrations portrays a non-specific brown skinned family but the experience of death is universal across all races.
Culture: Story is culturally non-specific—a universal theme
Ability: A little boy (not handicapped) has to overcome the grief of losing his cat and finding comfort in knowing that the cat lives on in his memories.
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Theology talk: Death as a natural part of the human life cycle. We have the promise of hope that we will see our loved ones again.
Faith Talk Questions:
1) Where do we go when we die?
2) What does it mean—“the Spirit lives forever”?
3) Is death something that we should be fearful of?
Review prepared by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Dee Osbourne-Smart
Big Cat Pepper by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.