Two by Two: Two Children's Books that deal with Loss

Two by Two is a new exciting children literature project. Its purpose is to bring more or less known children books in the attention of teachers, parents and children around the world, paired on specific themes such as death, communication, self esteem, anger management, friendship, learning about colors or numbers, unconditional love, etc. All of these books are in my personal library, carefully chosen to fulfill some of the criteria described here, and have been used during my teaching classes. The children I work with had wonderful reactions to them, and this has inspired me to write this Two by Two series. 

Two Children's Books that deal with Loss

1. Rabbityness, Jo Empson

During one of my trips to Waterstones one book popped into my eyes. Its cover looked like one of Pollock's colorful explosions with the smiling face of a black, rather silly looking rabbit in the middle. I picked it up, then noticed it had a "Waterstones Children's Book Prize" Sticker on it, which I suppose further determined me to poke my nose into it. Then once I opened it, I couldn't stop reading until the end. 

Rabbityness tells the story of a rather unusual rabbit, who, beside being a normal rabbit with normal rabbit habits, also had some unrabbity artistic passions: painting and making music. His passions made him so happy that he became an inspiration for all the other rabbits, who joined him in filling the woods with color and music. 

One day, Rabbit disappears and the other rabbits were very sad. The woods were quiet and grey and all that was left of Rabbit was a deep dark hole. But in that hole, rabbit left some gifts for them: things to make colors and music! And once again, with the gifts from rabbit, the forest was filled with wonderful joy, with music and drawings and paintings made by very happy rabbits, who discovered that they too loved doing unrabbity things!

I very much loved how the author combined bits of reality with fantasy, how she made it so simple for children to identify themselves with the rabbits. I also loved the metaphors: the big dark hole is the void the loss of someone dear leaves behind, but in it, the author shows, we can always find the gifts those dear ones leave behind, colors and music for our wounded souls. This is an excellent writing about loss, inspiration and creativity! Last but not least, the illustrations are amazing!

2. The heart and the bottle, Oliver Jeffers

Oliver Jeffers is one of my favorite authors and illustrators. His work is simple but very meaningful, warm and subtle and his art is often made with a combination of drawings, paintings and real photography collage. 

The Heart and the Bottle teaches us about the beauty of childhood and ways to deal with loss. The story goes like this:

Once there was a little girl whose head was filled with all the curiosities of the world. She loved to read, draw and explore the world together with a special someone, with whom she shared all her findings and her wonders. 

Until a day when all she discovered was an empty chair. She then decided to put her heart away in a safe bottle which she wore around her neck, until she grew bigger and bigger and the heart became heavier and heavier. 

It took meeting a little girl whose head was still filled with all the curiosities of the world to make her want to put her heart back. Once she did, she was again sensitive to all the wonders of the world. And the chair was not so empty anymore.
Dealing with loss is part of life, and I believe it is important to start talking to children about it even before they are faced with such events. Although we may never really be prepared for death, reading and talking about it helps both children and parents deal with some of their most powerful fears in a warm, positive way. These reading moments also strengthen the parent - child relationship, develop the child's vocabulary and reading or listening skills. There are many more children's book on this theme. You can find some of them in LH Johnsons's List

Enjoy the readings and the peace they may bring!

With love,


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