Friday, March 27, 2020

HENRY & BEA by Jessixa Bagley – a story about sadness and loss

I liked this story, a good one for generating discussion about sadness. I read a hard copy I had signed out from the public library, but it is also available on Epic. If you're looking for my daily One for Fun learning activity, the post will be up later today.

Summary from the publisher:

Henry and Bea are inseparable, but one day Henry suddenly stops talking to his best friend. Bea knows there’s something Henry’s not telling her, but what could it be?

Henry and Bea have always been inseparable…until one day Henry suddenly stops talking to Bea. He won’t chat with her in class, and he won’t sit with her at lunch. Bea can tell something’s going on, and she’s determined to find out what it is.

When their teacher announces that the class is taking a field trip to a farm, Bea hopes that this might be her chance to reconnect with Henry. When Henry finds an old cat collar at the farm and starts to cry, he finally reveals his secret to Bea: his cat Buddy died last week.

And even though it’s hard for them both, Bea knows that she’ll be there for Henry, as his best friend, no matter what.

Henry and Bea was written and illustrated by Jessixa Bagley. It was published in 2019 by Holiday House.


It’s always lucky to find someone who understands you,
and that’s why Henry and Bea were the best of friends.

My Thoughts as a Writer:

This story about the loss of a pet was a little different in that it showed how sadness affected the character during their everyday life. It was really interesting how his friend tried to figure out what was wrong when he didn’t feel like talking. A good example for writers for how to include some interiority from a character.

The soft-toned illustrations capture a lovely, quiet mood for this story. I enjoyed how the details on the clothing and the character expressions make them seem so real.

My Thoughts as an Educator:

This is a quieter story about emotions and sadness. Although this story is about dealing with the loss of a pet, it could be used for discussion about any kind of loss or sadness.

Ages: 4-7

Grades: K – 2

Themes: sadness, loss, friendship


Discuss:  What is your favourite page in the story? Explain why.

Draw & Write: What do you do when you feel sad? Draw a picture of something you like to hold or a place you go to be by yourself. Write sentence: I feel sad when…

Fun at home: With a grown-up, find a cookie recipe and bake some cookies! [Baking is a great opportunity for learning about measuring.]

For more picture book reviews and activities, visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog  on Fridays.


  1. When Henry finds the old cat collar on the farm and begins to cry, I could cry with him. This sounds like quite a touching story that deals with the tender topic of the loss of a pet -- something many children will, sadly, be able to relate to. When my library reopens, I'll make sure to look for a copy. Many thanks for sharing this book today.

  2. What a sweet share today about a friend helping a sad friend deal with the loss of his dog -- sometimes the very first loss a child experiences. I remember holding funerals for dead wild birds and bunnies in the field behind our house as a kid. Dealing with grief is such an important topic for kids.

  3. What an important book. It's often hard to know how to help a friend through their grief. This is an important book and I am looking forward to getting a good look at it, soon.

  4. I love this book. Such a poignant and empathetic story. Thank you for featuring it for PPBF!


I love to hear your responses and thoughts! Your comments will appear after moderation (I've decided to enable moderation due to excessive spam).