Coming to terms with the loss of a father and father figure

A bittersweet picture book about coming to terms with the loss of a father and father figure, and a stunning storybook for young children who live with the daily effects of climate change A…

Coming to terms with the loss of a father and father figure

A bittersweet picture book about coming to terms with the loss of a father and father figure, and a stunning storybook for young children who live with the daily effects of climate change

A pleasingly bittersweet picture book set in Sweden, Two Children’s Books Offer Hope for the Environment features two family members who are able to share their powerful emotional bond. Written in clear, very child-friendly language and illustrated with great care by photographer Tomas Larsson, the sweet story is helped along by a gentle orchestral score and the rhythmic moves of a hand. This is a book where the words and images speak louder than the words alone: a poignant, beautiful picture book that reflects the terrible guilt and grief parents often feel when they lose their child.

Simon and Garfunkel: All That You Can’t Say by Eleanor Williams

In the family event “When My Baby Comes”, Simon tries to reason with his wife on the phone while she watches a baseball game with her son. The narrator then speaks of the little girl’s story, saying: “I was terrified when she said that her dad never came to see her. He only said he was at home. When I asked her why, she told me he was too busy working and staying up later on the computer. And so we never talked more about the details. Because if we did, my little girl would end up doing things that he did, or think he did.”

By introducing a real-life account of what happens when parents can’t pay attention to their children, the book shows how a tragedy can completely devastate young lives, leaving them with a distorted, abandoned self. A bleak image of a closed book and a string-bound sleeping bag in the middle of the night bears witness to the story. In contrast, Simon later wonders why he needs a copy of the newspaper with the story of “When My Baby Comes” in the title: “You need the paper on Sundays? But if it’s just in the newspaper, that means you’re trapped with this endless worry about what happens to the world. When will your baby bring this back? But then what else could he bring?”

Simon and Garfunkel: All That You Can’t Say by Eleanor Williams

This picture book for younger children who live with the everyday effects of climate change is a multi-layered gem. It centres on the Greenleaf family and their moving journey from London to a remote island. “By every measure,” the narrator informs us, “the living world is shrinking. Something, and no one knows what, is changing every day. We’re heading towards a future of global shortages and environmental chaos. To prepare for this, we’re rebuilding the world from scratch.”

Bodies spill from the wrecked hulk of the Tall Ship. Inside lies an ice-cream shop. With a charred mural of a lost ship providing the background, the story moves to a series of remarkable paintings, which join the bones of the fallen ship and the frozen body of the flinging ice cream parlour to help “show you what being on an island looks like”. Each painting invokes a surprise reality, from an adventure on a big patch of moss to the shrieking dreams of a discarded dog. With truly powerful photography and a poetic, haunting text, this stunning piece of work by Eleanor Williams is part of the growing body of creative, excellent book/film/animation/visual-art offerings about climate change.

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