Books on Difficult Subjects

For this week Shan's has pulled together a short list of books that deal with difficult topis. They discuss death and divorce and temperment.

Hello My Name is Bob by Linas Alsenas—a hysterical book about two friends with strikingly different temperaments and styles.

This book pulls the reader in as it breaks down the fourth wall and allows kids to appreciate both steadfast, cautious Bob and his wilder friend and how they don’t need to be alike to appreciate one another. This can be a great read for talking about friendship, especially the “opposites attract” variety, and how celebrating those differences can be a marvelous thing. Ages 4-6. Look Inside.

Tess’s Tree by Jess M. Brallier—it’s always hard to find the right book to talk about death and the ceremonies and coping that go on around the process. If no one specific has died, it’s not always ideal to pick a book about a grandparent, teacher, or parent. Different faiths and different situations can make this a tricky topic.

Tess’s Tree is one of the best books since The Tenth Good Thing About Barney that offers a look at the grieving process in a subtle way that can be addressed to any child. Tess loses her beloved tree, one that has stood through many generations. The girl goes through many emotions dealing with the loss, and the family winds up having a memorial where many people come and share their memories of the tree and what it meant to them. It’s a touching story that gently introduces the topic of loss in a way that young children will be able to grasp. Ages 4-8.
Look Inside

Before You Were Mine by Maribeth Boelts; pictures by David Walker—This story made me cry, and made my husband tear up too. The book is narrated by a boy with a new puppy and he thinks about what kind of life the puppy may have had before. (The puppy being a rescued animal)

The boy relates how sad he was over the loss of his old dog, but comes to love his new pet and realizes it doesn’t matter what the pup’s life was like before, because now he is home and will stay there. Pictures are sweet and touching, and the whole book is a tribute to the love of animals and the importance of taking in rescued animals. Ages 4-6.
Look Inside.

Pigs to the Rescue by John Himmelman—I think I may have mentioned Himmelman’s earlier book at some point, Chickens to the Rescue. Anyone who’s read that one will quickly connect the two and delight in the ongoing hilarity.

In the first book, Chickens To the Rescue, different characters around the farm get into some difficulty and are rescued by the farm’s flock of Chickens. These chickens are amazing, managing to cook, do homework assignments and rescue animals from danger, but at the end of the book, the chickens are exhausted and sleeping. So who comes to the
rescue on the last page? The pigs. This is funny enough on its own, but now Himmelman has continued the farm saga as the pigs take on the role of rescue—with disastrous results. The pigs may mean well, but they wind up causing more problems than they solve. At last the family all shush each other when the cat knocks over her bowl of milk so that the pigs don’t hear of it. And they don’t . . . but that may not be the end of the farm’s rescuing critters! Ages 4-6 yrs. Look Inside.

Dad and Pop: An Ode to Fathers and Stepfathers by Kelly Bennett -–there are still surprisingly few books that address children in divorced families, especially books that aren’t clunky issue driven things about divorce itself. Granted, those are needed, but this is a nice refreshing little book about a child with a father and stepfather and how both are very different from each other. Like any book about opposites, Dad and Pop are wildly different in their tastes and styles. But the child narrator participates in a variety of activities with both of these men in her life and is fully confident of their love for her despite those differences. It’s a positive and uplifting book that may take some explaining for children who have not dealt with divorce and stepparents, but is great for dealing with this particular topic. Ages 4-6.