Death Is Stupid

illus. by Anastasia Higginbotham. 64p. (Ordinary Terrible Things: Bk. 2). Feminist Pr. Apr. 2016. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781558619258.
PreS-Gr 3—This exploration of death and grieving begins with a boy mourning the loss of his grandma and his bold observation that "When a loved one dies/people can say some/…stupid things"—referring to the platitudes offered to him (e.g., "Just be grateful for the time you had with her."). Through mixed-media collage, speech bubbles, and simple text, Higginbotham explores a child's experience of loss: "Dying is not a punishment. But it mostly doesn't feel fair." The bold collages, set against a plain brown background, visually reinforce the child's disoriented swirl of emotion. A few of the images are unclear or ambiguous, but the boy's grief and responses are kidlike and recognizable. Readers follow along as he contemplates the reactions of his family members, imagines having a conversation with Gramma, and continues to feel her absence in his life. Eventually, he shares cherished memories with his father, and they work together in Gramma's garden. The author recommends activities that may help ("keep someone and, at the same time, let them go"), such as reading the same books that they enjoyed. She also offers suggestions for dealing with the death of a pet.
VERDICT Clearly written to validate and respect a child's feelings, this book is a useful resource for parenting collections or patrons looking for a relatable exploration of death.

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