It is no small matter, finding a natural way of presenting to children so weighty a subject as death. In that respect, this read-aloud book is a moving success. It weaves together observations, poems, short stories with drawings and prints by Sylvia Weve. The clever part is that it is nowhere painful or sentimental: poetically but with eyes wide open it addresses essential aspects of death such as the sense of loss, the pain, the longing for the deceased, and intimacy, vulnerability, illness, suicide and rituals. Sylvia Weve’s prints give visual expression to these essentials, sometimes light-heartedly and wittily, sometimes in matt, earthy colours. The book also contains many shortened pages which create intimate corners and ‘chambers’. Opening one of these shorter pages reveals a stand-alone drawing or intimate poem: something that allows you to join with the child in exploring the subject and sharing particular thoughts and images in a moment of shared concentration.
The book’s size and shape, the rhythm of text and image, the uncluttered clear typography, the paper, the quality of reproduction of the drawings, the style of binding – these are all subservient to the unfathomable subject which is thereby embraced and rendered more quotidian and available for discussion. An unusual book in its approach and effect.