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Dear Phyllis Reynolds,
In June 2006, my best friend Elmer died of cancer. Elmer was 18 years old. He was gray and white, had yellow eyes and whiskers. He was my cat. He had been part of my family for 16 years. He had lived with me for my whole life. He endured the coloring of his paws, a hurricane evacuation, and an insane little sister. It was no surprise when we had to put him to sleep. I cried for months before it happened. Elmer had been with my dad before he married my mom. Elmer had been the practice child. When he died, my family was devastated, but your book, Sang Spell, changed the way I looked at things.
After Elmer was gone, I felt numb inside for a very, very long time. I wished I could run away and hide from the world, just like Josh. Day after day, I felt tiny and pointless. I remember asking God several times why people had to die. It was the first time I hadn't had a cat in my possession, and it was miserable. I felt like I had become a different person and that it was my fault that Elmer had died, even though I knew it wasn't true. I felt tears well in my eyes whenever I thought of cats or saw pictures of Elmer.
When I graduated into the fifth grade, my parents got us two adorable little kittens. Even though I was extremely happy, I still felt the missing piece in my heart. I loved the kittens very much, but I knew I would never be the same. Not even the best cat in the world could ever replace a friend like Elmer. I wanted to forget about the past and love the kittens even more than I had loved Elmer, even though I knew that it would be impossible.
At the beginning of sixth grade, my Language Arts teacher read your book to our class. It reminded me of Elmer a few times, but it wasn’t until I was assigned to write this letter that I realized how much the book had really changed me. I never knew a book could change someone's life so drastically.
Your book showed me how to cure myself of my pain. Instead of running away and trying to forget all about Elmer, I now know that I should try to remember all the happy times we had together. I used to wonder how that was supposed to make me feel better, but when I actually tried to make myself happy, it worked! Now I love my kittens just as much as I loved Elmer. I still feel sad about Elmer every now and then, but I can make myself feel better without thinking about something to get it off my mind. Thank you so much for getting me through my time of trouble.
Elaine Parizot, Grade 6
© The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. (Used by permission.)