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GOODBYE, GRANDPA by Jelleke Rijken


by Jelleke Rijken & Mack van Gageldonk ; illustrated by Mack van Gageldonk

Pub Date: July 1st, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-60537-373-7
Publisher: Clavis

Young Bear experiences the loss of his grandpa, but his good friends help him through the experience.

Bird brings the light-brown Bear over to a gray bear who’s seemingly asleep on the ground. As Bear weeps, and Chicken arrives with a first-aid kit thinking Bear is wounded, Elephant explains death, saying: “When you’re dead, you can’t talk, move, or breathe. You’re no longer alive.” Elephant organizes a simple ceremony: “We are going to say goodbye to your grandpa.” Bear creates a special gift: “A drawing of a fish!” Chicken makes a bouquet of yellow flowers, the kind Grandpa liked. They form a procession, and each one does something special near the body. “Chicken lays down her flowers and Elephant trumpets a song. / …[Bear] finds a good spot for his drawing and gives Grandpa one last long hug.” As night falls, the friends make a fire and speak of Grandpa tenderly. Thoughtful adults can use this simple book with its heartfelt text and solemn, cartoon animals to explain death to young children, although there is one jarring sentence in this (uncredited) translation from Dutch. When the animals approach the dead body for their ceremony, the text reads: “It feels weird, sad, and a little exciting, too.” Caregivers may find “exciting” the wrong word for these circumstances.

A serviceable addition to the small group of books that deal with death for the youngest audiences.

(Picture book. 3-6)