Today, two books arrived for a customer. I figured these books were new, being promoted or had a contemporary theme as they were purchasing two copies each. They are important as they both deal with the deal of an older male/grandfather. This tricky subject has books that really work or do not depending on beliefs. In November 2019 we saw Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez and August 2019 The Immortal Jellyfish published. While they might not be my personal first choices, they were lovely books that need to be reviewed and investigated when the need arrives.
Christiane Duchesne created Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez. Several village children notice one day Mister Rodriguez does not do his normal routine. Oh, he comes out at four o’clock as usual for his walk about the village, but instead of going about his business, he stops, and magical events start happening that day and for the rest of the week. That is, until Sunday. When he does not show at all. However, the adult reader will notice (plus it is mentioned) only the children see these magical going ons. The adult reader
will understand the theme of death has been introduced. This magical, soft take on loss is almost romantic, but not overly sentimental. It is spiritual without being religious. Francois Thisdale has beautiful illustrations that mix drawing and computer elements. This made some of the art a bit odd for me (faces are awkward), but overall the colors and presentation are bold, comforting and not too over the top. The art adds to the more serious tone to the story.
Sang Miao deals with a more direct approach to death but also brings in Eastern philosophy. The grandfather and narrator are together, the grandfather mentions The Immortal Jellyfish and why it is called that. Death is casually introduced by the grandfather and then by the child saying he was told his grandfather had died and was not coming back. I was enjoying the honest, straight forward approach, but then takes on fantastical elements. The grandfather appears and takes the child to Transfer City, where all creatures pick their next life. While it might not be promoting reincarnation per say, it is promoting the fact that this new life/new form is what will come to us in dreams to let us know our loved ones are with us. Miao’s illustrations are realistic, but not “solid real” as they continue the more fantasy element. Busy and colorful they also have darker colors as well. The mix of dark and light, the shadows, all bring together the feelings the author wishes to show.
These books, while a sad subject, do give a more spiritual side to the theme. They are both softer than straight forward about death titles. While I will still lean towards Tear Soup by Pat Schwiebert (as it deals with loss in a more general sense and can be given to adults as wells as kids), these have a special place where dealing with grief.