The Red Tree – Shaun Tan
This award winning book is exquisitely written and illustrated by the modern master of picture books, Shaun Tan. Only sparsely narrated, the illustrations do most of the talking and inspire children and adults alike to discuss themes of depression, loneliness and feelings of being overwhelmed by life. Suitable for ages 10+ or younger if your child is showing signs of depression and you would like to help them discuss their feelings.
Augustus and His Smile – Catherine Rayner
Augustus is a sad tiger that has lost his smile and sets out to find it by exploring the world and the things in it. Both Augustus and the world he explores are illustrated in bright jungle colours that help you share the curiosity he experiences. I shed a tear at the beautiful simplicity of Rayner’s narrative and Augustus’ journey of discovery about the wonders of the world.
The Heart and the Bottle – Oliver Jeffers
If I shed a tear at ‘Augustus and his smile’ I physically wept at the ‘the Heart and the Bottle’ (in the middle of a bookshop as well!). An excellent book to help explain the loss of a loved one and how one person’s love can affect us throughout our lives. Jeffers’ childlike illustrations make these themes more accessible to young children but are just as touching for teenagers and adults.
I’ll Always Love You – Hans Wilhelm
This book charts a young boy and his dog, Elfie, growing up and playing together. It takes you through the joy and love they share together until Elfie gets old and one day does not wake up. A touching story about friendship and love that expertly tackles the theme of loss for younger children.
Michael Rosen’s Sad Book – Michael Rosen, illustrated by Quentin Blake
Michael Rosen is best known for his books of nonsense verse for children but here he tackles his feelings of bereavement from the death of his son. The words are brought to life by Quentin Blake who uses his hand, which so often illustrates joyful and whimsical scenes, to paint those unexplainable feelings we experience when we lose a loved one. Again, this is more suited to age 10+ or for children who are starting to ask about death.