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Michael Rosen’s Sad Book

A comforting and illuminating read for melancholic moments

Michael Rosen’s Sad Book is an understated masterpiece. It takes a look at an aspect of our children’s lives we sometimes overlook, their capacity to deal with heartache. Michael Rosen’s son Eddie, was only 18 when he died. The author’s grief and loss is woven into this exploration of one of our less discussed emotions.

The starting point of the book is Eddie’s death, the ensuing grief, and how the burden of such sadness can make people behave in strange ways. The candid and simply worded text describes how this may feel.

Sometimes sad is very big.
It’s everywhere. All over me.

The Sad Book is for all types of sad. Although it’s ideal for bereaved children, I personally know parents who’ve used it to help their kids through family break-up and divorce. Sometimes sad comes to find us and we don’t even know why. Michael Rosen acknowledges this too. He explores different aspects of sadness, and ways to ease the hurt and think around it. For example,

Every day I try to do one thing I can be proud of.
Then, when I go to bed, I think very, very, very
hard about this one thing.

Quentin Blake’s fine illustrations contribute hugely to the brilliance of this book, his watercolours beautifully evoking the author’s moods and ideas. Michael Rosen and Quentin Blake have worked together for many years, and this book is a shining example of their symbiotic relationship. The text is realised by the power of the illustration.

This is not a new book, and it’s not easily categorised. It may be missed by even the keenest bookshop visitor, and this is why I’d like to highlight it here. For times when we can’t find our own words to reassure children, this moving and sensitive book helps them to acknowledge and accept life’s melancholic moments.

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