Tag Archives: loss

The Tub People

tub

By Pam Conrad, Illustrations by Richard Egielski

Scholastic, 1989

The Tub People stood in a line all day on the edge of the bathtub. There were seven of them, and they always stood in the same order — the father, the mother, the grandmother, the doctor, the policeman, the child and the dog. They were made out of wood, and their faces were very plain. They could smile or frown, or cry or laugh. Sometimes they would even wink at each other, but it hardly showed.

My son attached a piece of blue painter’s tape to the cover of this book, marking it as one of his all-time favorites. Although truthfully, he was probably also looking for a project that would stall his bedtime without making me lose my patience. (How can you get angry at a child for showing love towards his books?) One evening, the Tub Child is accidentally swept down the drain, causing untold grief, loss and helplessness to wash over the “surviving” Tub People. Despite the happy ending, there’s a melancholy tone to this book and illustrations that I’m not always in the mood for. But I recommend it all the same.

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One Hen

hen

Written by Kate Smith Milway, Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes

Kids Can Press, 2008

Kojo and his mother live in a village in the Ashanti region of Ghana. None of the twenty families in the village have much money, but they do have a good idea. Each family promises to save a bit of money so that one family can borrow all the savings to buy something important.

My son snatched this off a shelf just as our library was closing yesterday.  It’s the story, to quote the front flap, of “how changes happen in the world, one person, one family, one community at a time.” A book about microfinance? Obviously, this could have been ridiculously pedagogical. Happily, it’s not.  One Hen is based on the story of Kwabena Darko, a real boy from Ghana who lost his father at an early age and  began taking care of hens to help his mother support their family.  When he became a successful poultry farmer, he founded Sinapi Aba (Mustard Seed) Trust, and in 2006 alone, gave out small loans to over 50,000 Ghanians. Cool, right?  The vivid illustrations have a dreamy quality which complement Milway’s matter-of-fact, yet still poetic prose.

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Half a World Away

newworld

By Libby Gleeson, Illustrated by Freya Blackwood

Arthur A. Levine Books, 2006

Amy and Louie built towers as high as the sky. They dug holes deep enough to bury bears, and they saw magical creatures in the clouds…But one day Amy and her family moved a long, long way away…to the other side of the world.

I’ve come across precious few children’s books that deal gracefully with death (Up in Heaven, by Emma Chichester Clark, is by far the best) and way fewer which acknowledge the smaller, yet also significant, losses kids might experience as well. At the top of that list? Having your best friend move away. The beauty of this very simple book is its reassuring message: A special friendship won’t be broken by distance. When my son’s best friend moved to the opposite coast last fall, he was devastated — but didn’t want to talk about it. I like to think reading this book offered him some comfort.

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