Death is one of the most difficult topics to address in materials written for children. Whereas most picture books do so by talking about pets, or by skirting the matter with an "they have gone far away", Cry, Heart, But Never Break actually tackles it head on with the passing of a grandmother. The four children in the book represent the different ways that people react to death and sorrow; this should allow a child to see themselves in at least one of the characters. Like everyone, they find the concept hard to grasp, and even try to ward off Death, who is personified in the form of a kindly-looking, cloaked, old man. It is Death himself though, who helps the children understand and come to terms with the passing of their caregiver. Pardi draws in a style that befits the reverent mood surrounding death. Her illustrations and colour choices are neither too dark, nor too light, and while Death stands out in his black, he never looks frightening. Ringtved's words also have a soothing quality to them. He gives a voice to the emotions of the children, before taking them gently by the hand, and talking them through them. Cry, Heart, But Never Break is upfront with children, it does not advocate any one religion over the other, so it can be applied to any, and its portrayal of Death as a character who sympathizes, allows it to stay on course, addressing a child's grief, not their fear. All in all, the creators beautifully handle the death of a beloved family member in a way that says it is okay to grieve, while offering some small amount of solace and explanation.
What a beautiful book. The illustrations are divine, the story is very real, but the topic of learning the blessings of death is emotional. Highly recommended for anyone.
Rose in PR
This book honestly, but gently, talks about death and grief in a way that children will understand.
So many books about grieving and death for children can feel heavy-handed, but this story is very approachable. While Death is portrayed with the black cloak and sickle, he is not silent, faceless, or scary. Rather, Death is the storyteller, weaving the timeless tale of Sorrow and Delight, Joy and Grief, and how they all must be experienced in our lives. I believe adult readers will appreciate this just as much as the children they may need to share it with.
Very beautiful and moving story for both children and adults. "Cry heart, but never break. Let your tears of grief and sadness help begin new life." "What would life be worth if there were no death? Who would enjoy the sun if it never rained? Who would yearn for day if there were no night?"
I had requested our library to purchase this advanced picture book as I wanted to ensure we have appropriate books for dealing with difficult subjects for children, such as grief.
This book is so beautifully written, it's really a lovely and touching read for anybody. Have some tissues handy as you may get a bit teary-eyed. It's a simple but moving book about children who are visited by Death, who has come to take away their aged grandmother and teaches them why we have Grief and Sorrow in our lives (so we can appreciate things like joy and Delight).
Highly recommended for people who have to broach this difficult subject with children and need a story to help explain and understand why people die.
This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. What a thoughtful and loving approach to face death and grief.
I loved this review: No, no, I'm not crying, I just have a picture book in my eye.
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