The Hare-Shaped Hole

Quarto/­Frances Lincoln. Jan. 2024. 34p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780711276079.
PreS-Gr 3–Dealing with loss is hard. Trying to explain it to young children who can only think concretely is very difficult. This sweetly tender book attempts to do so in a way that children will be able to understand, but is engaging enough that it can also offer older readers opportunities to talk about their grief. Hertle the rabbit and Bertle the turtle are best friends. They are very different, but they each help the other and appreciate each other’s differences as well as their similarities. One day, Hertle disappears. There is no explanation for why Hertle is gone, and Bertle feels like there is a big hole where Hertle used to be. At first, Bertle is angry, and begs and bargains; then Bertle is sad. Gerda the bear finds Bertle weeping and, after allowing time for sad feelings, suggests filling up the hole with happy memories of Hertle, which helps. The depiction of the Hertle-shaped hole being filled with bright colors and stars will help readers understand that loss doesn’t always have to mean just pain. Warmly colored artwork is a perfect complement to the story.
VERDICT Every library needs titles to pull down and hand over in a sad moment, and this one should be one of them.

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