Book review: Something very sad happened. A toddler’s guide to understanding death

Written by Bonnie Zucker + Illustrated by Kim Fleming 

Tackles: Death 

Age Range: 2-3 years

Genre: Picture Book

This book tells the story of a a family who has just lost their grandma. It explains death and sadness in a very simple and child friendly way, while still being clear and using correct terminology. The author notes in a letter to the reader that this book is aimed specifically at children aged 2 to 3 in order to fill a gap in the market that she noticed when her own mother died and she was in search of a way to explain it to her toddler. This book is fairly short an contains detailed, pastel pictures, making it perfect for toddlers. 

In addition to a well written story and beautiful illustrations, the author provides an absolute abundance of additional information. She opens with a note to the reader, and information on how to best utilize the book, including personalizing it with the name or other title of the relative that has passed (auntie, Jane, Chris, brother, etc.). After the story, she provides a note to adults that gives tips on general explanation of death, talking to your child, answering questions, modeling healthy grieving, dealing with your own emotions, funerals, cemeteries, commemorating the loved one, and guidance for moving forward. The author provides guidance and advice for just about every aspect of death. The story also focuses on the child and the parent grieving at the same time, and explains to children what it might be like as their own parent is grieving. 

In my opinion, the design of this book is the best type of children’s book, and is especially fitting for such a hard topic with so many layers. This book also covers an important gap in the market and perfectly fits its goal of being a book for toddlers. I strongly recommend this book, and I hope it brings comfort and a sense of direction in difficult times. 

10 out of 10 leaves

Buy it here. 


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