By Author / Illustrator
Molly Potter, Sarah Jennings
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
When someone dies, we can feel a whole host of different emotions and explaining them to a child isn't so easy. This book uses clear, easy-to-understand language to answer complex questions about death and how a child might feel when someone dies. It covers all manner of tricky subjects with sensitivity and honesty, from what death is to why people die.
Each double page spread takes a child through how they might feel, what they might think and how they might behave. With engaging illustrations, gentle guidance and simple advice for parents and carers, Let's Talk About When Someone Dies fulfils an important but difficult need for starting conversations with children about death and bereavement, in an accessible and supportive way.
In Let's Talk About When Someone Dies, Molly Potter and Sarah Jennings bravely and boldly take on a subject that we would all feel apprehensive about reading to young children. This is a picture book written in a non-fiction style on starting conversations with children about death and bereavement.
Potter and Jennings seem to have thought of everything or as best as anyone can with regards to this topic. Potter talks directly to children using clear, easy-to-understand language to answer complex questions about death and how a child might feel when someone dies. Children are at the heart of this book and you can clearly see that Potter is passionate about getting this right, being honest with the reader whilst remaining sensitive.
This book is well thought out and, in my opinion, pitched just right for its audience. The engaging illustrations and gentle guidance/explanations make this book one that can be read and understood alone or shared with a supportive adult. Each double page spread explores a different question a child might have about death, outlining the facts and exploring how children might feel or react to this. Most pages also include an 'It's important to know' bulletin, with additional information addressing any misconceptions or puzzling thoughts children might have at this point in the book. The diverse characters on each page are relatable with detail to facial expressions that children will resonate with, irrespective of the text.
I like how this book has been broken down into manageable chunks and follows a meaningful chronological order to support children making sense of the process. Initially I was taken aback with Potters overt use of the words 'dead people'; as adults, we tend to avoid such blunt wording but as you move on through the book there is a perfect example of how Potter seems to have thought of everything as she introduces 'different words for death' as a subject heading. When you get to this page in the book, you are put more at ease as you begin to understand Potters reasons for her chosen language and her dedication to keeping the information true and manageable for children.
The final pages of the book provide guidance for parents and carers in order to get the most out of the book. I would advise both teachers and parents to read any such book like this themselves first to ensure you are comfortable with its content and that it is suitable for the children you are sharing it with. I would highly recommend this book to all ages who have been bereaved to read as the content is brilliantly supportive and tender.
32 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 5+
This is the book to turn to if you ever have to have that unthinkable yet ultimately inevitable conversation with a child about death and what happens next. Let's Talk About When Someone Dies is written by Molly Potter and provides a simple, straight-forward explanation of what happens when someone dies. The author uses clear, child-friendly language to answer some of the complex questions about death, covering sensitive questions such as: 'What is death?', explaining what happens to the body physically, while also addressing other difficult questions such as 'Why do people die?', 'What's a funeral?' and 'What happens to a person's body after the funeral?'
Each question is answered succinctly across two pages, explaining how a person might feel, think or sometimes behave. Supported by colourful illustrations by Sarah Jennings, this book provides an ideal conversation starter about death and bereavement, with a note to the reader at the beginning and guidance for parents and carers at the end. Children and many adults may find reading or understanding things tricky when they are upset or overly stressed, so the 'It's good to know' / 'It's important to know' notes on almost every page would be really helpful at these times.
Let's Talk About When Someone Dies is written in such a way that most children aged 7+ will be able to read and understand it on their own. However, as highlighted by the 'It's good to know' note on the first page, some of the material covered in this book may require discussion with an adult. Children are renowned for asking questions about all sorts of different things, both at home and at school. The death of a significant person will inevitably raise a number of questions for a young child. It may be that they feel they cannot ask these questions at home where other members of their family are dealing with their own grief and perhaps not behaving as they would do normally. As such, this book would make a vital resource for any teacher, Parent Support Assistant or anyone working in a welfare role in school.
32 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Sam Phillips, teacher.
Suggested Reading Age 7+