Every Time We Say Goodbye (picture books for tough times)

Bee Trudgeon - Children’s librarian at the Porirua library - made a selection of picture books for tough times...

1Granpa by John Burningham (Red Fox, 2003)


A dialogue between grandparent and child that covers all the important business and lasts until Granpa’s chair is (heartbreakingly) empty.

2The Sad Book by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Quentin Blake (Candlewick Press, 2005)


Michael Rosen’s son died, and it hurt this much, which is to say almost unspeakably. A keeping on classic with pitch perfect illustrations by a master.

3Haere, Farewell Jack by Tim Tipene and illustrated by Huhana Smith (Huia, 2005)


A circle of life where the spirits are always with us.

4All the Dear Little Animals by Ulf Nilsson and illustrated by Eva Eriksson (Gecko Press, 2006)


Death is a serious business for the young company Funerals Ltd. They bury and provide suitable send-offs for the dead, even if they have to find the customers themselves.

5Duck, Death and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch (Gecko Press, 2008)


‘That’s life,’ thought Death.
‘It’s sad, but Death is nice,’ thought my son at the age of seven.
May we all be held so gently when our time comes to go.

6The Goblin and the Empty Chair by Mem Fox, Leo and Diane Dillon (Penguin/Viking 2009)


While a family suffers the aftermath of an unspeakable loss, a shy goblin builds his courage to help them through.

7The Bear and the Wild Cat by Kazumi Yumoto and illustrated by Komako Sakai (Gecko Press, 2011)


When a bear’s best friend – a bird – dies, he puts it in a box and retreats into himself. Then, one day, a wild cat troubadour pays him a visit, and teaches him the music of moving on.

8Rahui by Chris Szekely and illustrated by Malcolm Ross (Huia, 2011)


Time itself seems to be stored between the pages of this meditation on whanau, holidays, death, and moving on even when a big piece of the picture is missing.

9Maia and What Matters by Tine Mortier and Kaatje Vermeire (Book Island, 2013)


Maia and her grandmother weather the loss of her grandfather with a language that transcends the frozen lands of grandmother’s stroke. Visually breathtaking.

10Fox & Goldfish by Nils Pieters (Book Island, 2016)


Fox takes the dying Goldfish out for one last epic road trip on the way to farewell. What a way to die, and what a way to say goodbye!

11My Brother by Dee Huxley (Working Title Press, 2016)


A lonely creature sets out on a journey across landscapes subdued by absence, in search of a lost brother who was once as close as their own shadow.

Find more book recommendations and events on Bee’s Bookish Blog!

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1 COMMENT

  1. Brodie by Joy Cowley and Chris Mousdale would fit nicely in this wonderful list of wonderful books.

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