(original review, 2002)
Children's literature comes in 3 styles these days. "The Coming of Age Stories", in which a child suffers a horrible tragedy and grows because of it. Pets, best friends, and elderly relations don't live long in Coming of Age tales. I hated the things when I was a kid. I'd seen enough tragedy first hand. I didn't need to read about it. Then there are the "realistic" children's books, that describe the social dynamics of middle school, without commenting on how the everyday cruelty affects children.
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.