Tag Archives: death

Holes in the Sky

Holes in the Sky
by Patricia Polacco
G.P.Putnam’s Sons

A story that will stay in the heart long after it’s read.

It opens with a Patricia, her brother, and their babushka laying in a field at night, staring up at the stars. Their grandmother knows her end is near and shares how the stars are holes in the sky where she can look down on them when she is gone.  Their babushka passes, the farm is sold and they move to California. There, Patricia looks for a sign that babushka is watching over her, but finds none. A new life begins, with new people, and new challenges, but she can’t see the sign that babushka is watching over her…until she does, and sees her babushka was there all along.

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The Rough Patch











The Rough Patch
by Brian Lies
Greenwillow Books, 2018

Evan and his dog did everything together, until the unspeakable happened.  His dog passed. Evan acted out his emotions.  He ripped apart his garden that he and his dog once shared and he let weeds grow in the garden’s place. Evan’s anger shows up on every page, until…

In minimal words and in illustrations that clearly show the emotions one feels when someone close passes, we watch Evan struggle with his emotions.  Half the story is in the illustrations.  A comforting book for those who have lost a pet.

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Can Picture Books Change the Way We Think About Mental Health?!

It appears Australians allow for discussions of depression and death, unlike mainstream Americans.  Cheers, that they bravely publish picture books for the young to open doors to these life experiences.    Read reviews on The Red Tree and Duck, Death and the Tulip and change your perspectives on depression and death during May is National Mental Health Month.

The Red Tree 
Shaun Tan
Simply Read Books, 2003 (Canada)
Originally published in Australia

If a child experiences depression, or observes a friend or family member with depression, this book can, perhaps, help them understand it on an intuitive level.

A true picture book, half the story is told through its exquisite illustrations.  The opening line, “sometimes the day begins with nothing to look forward to” shows a girl sitting in bed in a rather drab room.  The next line “darkness overcomes you” shows a girl walking down the sidewalk in a large, faceless city, with a giant fish hovering above her, diminishing her in size.The Red Tree 200x301

Anyone who has experienced depression, understands these words and pictures.  If a child knows someone who has depression, it can give them insights into that person’s experience. Quiet and reflective, the story goes on to describe the feelings one typically has with depression.  At the end of her day, the girl returns to her room to find a small red leaf standing in the middle of her room.  And as she enters, it transforms into a bright, brilliant red leafed tree, with the words, “just as you imagined it would be,” reassuring the reader that a depressed person’s thoughts of hope will come true, in time.  This book is more appropriate for the older reader, ages 6-12.

Duck, Death and the Tulip
By Wolf Erlbruch
Gecko Press, 2011
Originally published in New Zealand and Australia

Another picture book where the illustrations tell at least half the story, we meet the duck and a hollow-eyed character who introduces himself as death.

Duck Death 200x283After Duck and Death meet, the duck decides Death is a really ‘quite nice’.  When Duck suggests they go to the pond, we learn, “Death had been dreading that.”  The reader quietly learns something is about to happen.  They swim for a while, and Duck offers to cover and warm Death, as water for Death is not agreeable.  When they wake the next morning, Duck is surprised she is not dead.  Duck discusses Angels and a place in earth where ducks could be roasted, but Death makes no comments on her chatter.  They choose to spend their day in a tree, and Duck thinks, “That’s what it will be like when I’m dead.  The pond alone, without me.”  As we get closer to the time, the reader is gently told death is coming.  They spend the summer together, but when cold starts coming in, death lies down, and that is the end for her.  Death carries her to the water and watches her float away.  Death is a part of life.

Read more reviews on Amazon: The Red Tree and Duck, Death, and the Tulip

The Forever Dog

The Forever Dog
by Bill Cochran
illustrated by Dan Andreasen
HarperCollins 2007

An especially moving story about a boy who loses his dog. Author Bill Cochran is outstanding at explaining to a youngster about death and how to handle its powerful emotions. This is a must read for young ones who have lost their best friend. Illustrator Dan Andreasen captures the love and warmth the story calls for; beautifully rendered.

Mike gets a pup named Corky and they do everything together. They even promise they would be best friends forever. Mike comes home from school one day and Corky doesn’t greet him. His mom tells him he was sick and is staying overnight at the vets. A morning call lets them know Corky passed.

Mike is deeply hurt; ‘His heart sank lower than it had ever been before.’ Then Mike was mad at Corky for breaking his promise. After about a week he shares Corky’s broken promise and he and his mom talk about how Corky will be there forever, it’s just different. When Mike asks why it hurts so bad, Mom suggests Corky’s trying to get comfortable in his new home: Mike’s heart.

The Forever Dog” was named among the Top Children’s Books of 2007 by the Cooperate Children’s Book Center.

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