Helping children deal with the loss of a loved one can be difficult, but Farewell, Grandpa Elephant can make it easier to explain what is happening in terms that they will understand. Through the elephants' eyes, children learn that even though they will never see a beloved face again, there is the certainty of preservation through their memory.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-06-11
- Reviewer: Staff
In a story first published in Germany in 2006, a grandfather elephant tells his grandchildren goodbye: he is going to the "elephant graveyard" to die. Cordes's pastel palette and gently rendered elephants lighten the somber story line, as the young elephants ponder what happens after death. In so doing, they introduce readers to several belief systems: that one might "walk on clouds" in heaven or "play cards with the devil" (pictured as a green-eyed elephant surrounded by flames) in hell after dying, be reincarnated (as a butterfly or baby elephant), or simply turn to dust: "Only your skeleton remains, and later on they put it on display in a museum," says one elephant. When the grandchildren turn to their grandfather for answers, he explains that death is a mystery that each individual must uncover alone. With its candid and contemplative approach to the subject, Abedi's story is reminiscent of Wolf Erlbruch's Death, Duck, and the Tulip (2011), but with a decidedly rosier presentation. Children encountering death for the first time should be comforted by the promise that memories live on in the stories we tell. Ages 4–8. (May)