Author: Michael Rosen
Illustrator: Quentin Blake
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Audience: Intended age range: age 8-12; more suitable age range: age 13-adults.
Summary: This book features a story about Michael Rosen who deals with grief at the loss his son. He shares his feelings, the ways in which he copes with his sadness, and he recalls to mind some memories about his son.
Michael Rosen’s Sad Book is very effective at illustrating the grief a parent may feel after the loss of a child. Some adults and older teens may find comfort in this book. However, I would not read this book to children under 12 years of age. This book expresses deep depression and suicidal thoughts. It also points to Eddie (Michael Rosen’s deceased son) as the one for blame instead of naming the illness, or accident as the one for blame. This can lead children of a young age to start blaming themselves for things that go wrong. This book is better used by a parent as a resource of comfort or as a resource to begin to think about how to express their feelings to a child who may be affected by the parent’s grief and/or the loss of a sibling. Nonetheless, there are more suitable books available to read to children about loss and death.
Literary elements at work in the story: This book is told from a first person point view about a real event that occurred in Michael Rosen’s life. The book focuses on the deep sadness that invades Michael’s life after the death of his son. The pictures that accompany the book accurately express Michael’s written feelings of deep sadness and loss.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? Michael Rosen’s Sad Book is told from a father’s point of view. Gender and race becomes an issue because every individual in different cultures process grief differently and in varying lengths of time.
Scripture: The book of Job
Theology: Sadness and grief are prominent in society with all kinds of loss that may occur. This topic is found in many books of the Bible, particularly the book of Job. The end of the book does provide a glimmer of hope reflected in the depiction of candles. In sadness, grief and loss Christ is our light and hope who comforts us and helps us to make some sense out of loss. Christ helps us to redefine what is “normal” in our life after a loss
Faith Talk Questions
1) When is a time you have felt sad?
2) What does being sad feel like to you?
3) Are you the only one who has felt sad?
4) Who is someone you can talk to if you feel sad?
5) Is God caring for you when you are sad?
6) What does the candle at the end of the story represent?
7) How can you redefine what was once “normal” in your life? (For older children and adults)
Review prepared by Jen Mitchell, MDiv/MACE, Union-PSCE at Richmond, 2010. Jen spent her summer internship in 2009 serving as a chaplain at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.
Michael Rosen’s Sad Book by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.