2 New Image Books Depict the Elusive Cover-and-Search of Grief
WHAT’S THE MATTER, MARLO?
By Andrew Arnold
By Matthew Cordell
“We solely have 42 extra Christmases till we’re useless.”
That is what my 4-year-old instructed me in mid-December earlier than bedtime. He has been testing out these sorts of musings on mortality so much currently. I shortly modified the topic, asking which he would like, “PJ Masks” or dinosaur pajamas. The reality is, I’m fearful of partaking him in these demise talks for worry of devastating him. “Everybody you realize will die sometime. Many in your individual lifetime and the extra you like them the more durable will probably be to say goodbye.” The place do I start?
Image books are the right medium by which to introduce one of many tougher and sophisticated of life’s challenges: grief.
Andrew Arnold’s “What’s the Matter, Marlo?” follows a toddler and her finest buddy, Marlo, spending time collectively laughing as they learn a joke ebook and enjoying hide-and-seek. Sooner or later Marlo is upset. He’s unhappy and offended. So offended that his rage, a mass of darkish scribbles, fills the web page and obscures him. Simply as in hide-and-seek, the buddy appears and appears till she finds Marlo, hiding in his grief. (His canine’s demise is hinted at visually.) The ebook concludes as they hug and cry collectively, “as a result of that’s what finest associates do.”
It’s fantastically exact, and accessible in its simplicity. Not solely does it communicate to grief in others, insightfully separating the individual from the (generally eruptive and unpredictable) feelings, nevertheless it additionally fashions empathy. The position of the buddy is to be current, affected person and compassionate.
In Matthew Cordell’s “Bear Island,” we’re provided the same canvas, and the image is painted with Cordell’s signature sensitivity.
We observe a lady, Louise, on her personal emotional trek after the demise of the household canine. The ebook begins with sepia-toned illustrations, bleached and pale like a forgotten T-shirt behind a station wagon. In her malaise, Louise rows out to the titular island, the place she encounters an ill-tempered bear in whom she acknowledges a well-recognized anger and disappointment. Over time they develop into companions of their respective wanderings by grief.
“Some days, solely Louise was higher. Some days, solely Bear was higher.” Colours are launched to the palette as grief fades and happiness returns.
Not like “What’s the Matter, Marlo?,” “Bear Island” depicts a layered and sophisticated journey. We’re proven the true tragic nature of grief because it occurs to all of us. It’s a gradual course of with ups and downs and no fast fixes. Cordell speaks eloquently and respectfully to the common expertise of loss and restoration.
Authors similar to Andrew Arnold and Matthew Cordell respect the distinctive privilege of making protected areas for our kids to discover these multifaceted feelings. Their books promote self-awareness and understanding. After they’re closed, there could also be arduous conversations, and questions that don’t have any solutions, however we’re left with a comforting message: Will probably be OK if we’re right here for each other.
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