Sunday, January 22, 2006

Michael Rosen's Sad Book

Rosen, Michael. 2005. MICHAEL ROSEN’S SAD BOOK. Ill. by Quentin Blake. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 0763625973 [Suggested Grade Levels K- 12]

In this very personal picture book, Michael Rosen writes about feeling sad, particularly the deep sadness he feels over the death of his own son. In simple, direct language, he describes the way being sad feels and how it affects him. He details the very real anger and anxiety he experiences and reveals the memories that offer him comfort. He also connects his own experiences with the sadness everyone feels from time to time.

Quentin Blake’s cartoon illustrations, usually known for their kinetic energy and humor serve the text surprisingly well. A wash of greys and blues suggest the dark clouds of sadness in multiple scenes. A more colorful palette is used for the frames of memories and daily life. The final wordless double page spread is a powerful image of the author pondering a single, lit candle. The emotional journey experienced in the author’s ruminations and the illustrator’s art is an honest, often lonely one, but it also includes glimmers of hope and even humor.

This may be a challenging book to share because of our own difficulties in expressing and handling grief, but it’s a reassuring journey for readers of all ages who have known sadness in their lives.

If you feel comfortable leading a discussion about grief or loss, this is a book that encourages empathy and sharing. Gather other books illustrated by Quentin Blake, winner of the Hans Christian Andersen award. Look at how he conveys humor, action, happiness, sadness through his art.

Other books for children about coping with death:
Clifton, Lucille. EVERETT ANDERSON'S GOODBYE. ISBN 0805008004

By Sylvia Vardell

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