Thursday, November 25, 2004

Some people are good at being sad

I'm familiar with Michael Rosen's work by reputation — We're Going on a Bear Hunt is considered a children's classic — even if his books aren't to be found on the shelves in our home.

The Guardian offers a poignant sketch of the author on the publication of his latest work, Michael Rosen's Sad Book, which tells the story of Rosen's grief at the death of his 18-year-old son (from meningitis).

Illustrated by Quentin Blake, the cover feels... lonely.

It's all very sad. I suspect this book could be very helpful to children in experiencing grief and understanding death. I hope I never have reason to turn those pages.

This is the part where I go off on a weird tangent:
I don't really understand books like this. I wonder if they ever find their audience. First, I don't think we give kids enough credit for understanding the world around them and their relationship to it. Second, those kids whose parents would use such a book likely are in loving, nurturing environments and would have little need for such a book. Or the parents use the book to keep an emotional distance form their children, in which case the kids gonna need more than a little ol' book to make a difference. So who buys these books? Are they meant to hide in libraries, where sad children will stumble across them just when they need them to find some enlightenment?

A book like this, intended for an audience, if done poorly really would be better not published at all. I hope this one's as honest as it sounds.
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