The Forever Kid by Elizabeth Mary Cummings and Cheri Hughes

Johnny is not in that photo but we know he is with us.

Johnny our forever kid.

That’s what we call him now. 

The Forever Kid by Elizabeth Mary Cummings and Cheri Hughes is a powerful picture book that explores how children feel when they lose a sibling.

We meet a family who love celebrating birthdays – birthdays filled with favourite people, favourite dinners and favourite snacks!

But this year the celebration is different because their big brother Johnny isn’t around anymore.

We don’t know why Johnny has gone but we do know that now he is a forever kid – forever in the hearts and the minds of the family.

This book is a celebration of Johnny’s life – a celebration of what he loved to do and how good he made them feel. It does not dwell on the sadness felt by the family – though we can sense this – but rather them trying to enjoy the happy memories.

The illustrations on each page ooze emotion and allow the young reader to see how the family is feeling throughout each stage of mourning. Through this they can see that mourning a loved one is ok – it’s an important thing to do and it’s something we can do with others who shared that person as well.

The forever kid would be a great book to share with anyone who has lost someone, especially young children. I think that it brings a sense of empowerment to the young reader as it shows that it is ok to miss someone and memories are a treasure we should always celebrate.

Now see what others think about this book by following some other great book blogs!

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The Garden of Hope by Isabel Otter and Katie Rewse

A young girl, a father and a dog – together yet alone since her mother passed away.

The house was a mess, the little girl Maya felt lonely and often sad and anxious.

But on one particularly sad day, her father tells her about the garden and how much it meant to her mother – especially when she was worried about something.

So grabbing gloves and boots Maya takes on the garden overgrown with weeds.

Maya tidies the garden and freshens the soil and we see by her face that she is relaxed and happier, doing something she knew her mother loved too.

Seeds are sown and hope is planted – then finally they grow.

Maya cared for the garden as much as she could, spending more time out there when she felt angry or upset and helping her father to spend time out there too.

Together they made the garden beautiful again and together they found hope – that despite all the darkness that they were feeling there was beauty in the world and because of the hope they had sowed – it had become even more beautiful!

The Garden of Hope is a story to read with anyone who has lost someone as it  provides hope.

Together you can see that life can be beautiful despite all the darkness and that if we continue to do things that make us feel joy, place more beauty back in the world and support each other, life can be the joyous place that it is meant to be.

Death can be a difficult topic to talk about and books are a great way to start this conversation. You may not talk about much more than the story but it may ignite that small flame inside the young children to know that life can go on.

Keep this book to share with someone you know needs some hope in their lives.

Thimble by Rebecca Young and Tull Suwannakit

What a beautiful story. Not only are the words soft and gentle but the illustrations highlight the warmth of the family who are going through a difficult time.

We have just spent that last month helping my husband’s grandmother move from independent living to higher care so we have spent quite a bit of time looking through her things and helping her keep or get rid of many things she loves.

We didn’t find a thimble but many boxes of paints and crafts and these are already being treasured dearly by my 7 year old.

Our children’s Great Grandma may live for many more years now she has the extra support bt I know that when the time comes to say goodbye, this book will be one we will share again and again.

So thank you Rebecca and Tull.

Finn’s Feather by Rachel Noble and illustrated by Zoey Abbott

Finn discovers an amazing white feather right on his doorstep. Could it be from his brother Hamish who is now an angel? 

After the tragic accident of her young son Rachel Noble wrote to help cope with her loss and through this she felt inspired to write a picture book that would help others, especially children who are going through this process of dealing with grief. Finn’s feather is a beautiful and sad yet empowering picture book.

Every body deals with traumatic events differently and this book is one which will inspire hope into both adults and children who have had to deal with death and grief.

Young children deal with death very differently to how adults do and this book looks at grief through the eyes of the older brother who finds a feather on his doorstep and believes it has been sent by his brother Hamish who is now an angel.

Young Finn doesn’t dwell on the sadness of the feather but rather the joy this beautiful white feather can bring. He takes it to school and alongside a friend they climb trees, make a castle, play hide and seek and of course tickle each other.

The feather is a beautiful metaphor for the loss of his brother and shows that when we have lost someone we always hope that they are nearby somehow.

But although Finn feels joy with his feather he also wishes his brother was still with him.

As the day wears on the feather becomes dirty and stuck up in a tree but with some help he is able to get it back down and after this his  friends tell him to “Hold it tight”  – such a beautiful line to come from friends who are observing someone who is dealing with grief.

We can hold onto our memories of loss or trauma but we also need to see the joy in life.

The note written by Finn on the final page leaves a heart-wrenching yet positive feeling and shows the importance of talking about how we feel, supporting each other and allowing ourselves to feel how we do about events like these.

Finn’s feather did make me cry but it also made me realise how important it is to talk and connect through those hard times, let ourselves cry, let ourselves be sad but also to let ourselves continue to see joy in life.

Finn’s feather is a story to share with anyone who has or has not lost someone in their life. It is a celebration of life and a celebration of memories. It reminds us that just because someone isn’t here on Earth with us anymore, it doesn’t mean your relationship with them is over.

If you have a child who is dealing with grief I highly recommend buying or borrowing this book. 

Buy now from Fishpond

 Finn's Feather

When the mountains roared by Jess Butterworth

Ever since her mum died, Ruby has been afraid. Of cars. Of the dark. Of going to sleep and never waking up. But then the last remaining leopards of the mountain are threatened and everything changes. 

Without warning Ruby’s mother is killed in outback Australia. Her mother, a herpetologist  leaves a gaping hole in Ruby and because of this sudden loss, she doesn’t know how to cope.

Ruby’s father and grandmother are also struggling to deal with this loss and we see this in the first chapter when they race to get away from Australia and on a boat into India without warning – to manage an abandoned hotel at the foot of the Himalayas.

At first Ruby hates living in this remote location but as time goes on she makes a friend, learns about the mountains and sees how much help she can be to the local wildlife.

But despite this new found love of the mountains she soon discovers a dark secret that it hides – poachers. These poachers are on the hunt for endangered leopards and will do anything to hide what they are up to.

You will fall in love with the mountains of India and be in awe of the determination and strength that Ruby displays despite the loss she has just experienced.

Children will relate to Ruby and Praveen and their ability to see beyond what adults see when it comes to making a difference in the world.

When the mountains roared by Jess Butterworth is an excellent read, set out in small chapters and adorned with leopard print, young readers will find this book a page turner yet a mananagable one.

When the mountains roared is a great book for a class novel study as it links in India and Australia, animal conservation and natural disasters.

So what else can you do with this book?

 – Find out where Ruby moves to from reading the description in the novel. Work out how long it would take to get there by boat and bus.

– Does this book have any similarities to Jess Butterworth’s other book ‘Running on the roof of the world”?

– Where in the world are animals poached and why does this happen? Explore what poaching means and measures in place to stop this from happening.

– Explore the differences in children’s lives around the world. Compare Ruby’s life in Australia to Praveen’s life in India as a goat herder.

– What are superstitions and why do they exist? Do you have any superstitions? How can superstitions be helpful and harmful?

– How many leopards (different types) are left in the world? Is poaching the only reason they are endangered?