THE DEATH BOOK by Pernilla Stalfelt


by , illustrated by , translated by
Age Range: 7 - 9


An unsentimental but misguided rumination on death, illustrated with simple ink and colored-pencil line drawings of deceased pets and people—nearly all of the latter naked and, plainly, male. Veering off on occasional side jaunts to bring in ghosts, Mexican Day of the Dead customs, and the like, Stalfelt (The Love Book, not reviewed) races past death’s physical changes—“Flowers can get brown and dried out when they die . . . people usually get pale and a bit more yellow than normal”—and its most common causes, various views on what happens afterward, funerals, memorials, wills, and euphemisms from “bit the dust” to “happy hunting grounds,” then finishes with a sprightly rhyme. Though this may, as the blurb has it, make death “thinkable” for children, its sexist language (“People used to take their best things with them into the grave . . . they could even take their wife or horse . . .”) and derisive treatment of non-Christian views of the afterlife (“What if you became a hot dog???”) signal a less than sensitive approach to an already disturbing, unfathomable topic. (Picture book/nonfiction? 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-88899-482-6
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Groundwood
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2002


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