There’s something incredibly special about Oliver Jeffers. All of his books seem to work on two levels. Children love them because the stories are simple and the illustrations are beautiful – but there is something deep in each story which really resonates with adults too. When I pick up one of his books and read it for the first time, I know that it’s probably going to make me feel a bit weepy and this one affected me more than any of the others.
The story is about a little girl who loves life. She loves to explore, she loves to learn and she sees wonder everywhere she turns. Pictured beside her (but not mentioned in the text) is her grandfather. Then one day she discovers an empty chair in her house, and the grandfather is no longer there.
I’m breaking my own rules with this book as I confess it isn’t one which I have read with Ivy. It’s a tiny bit old for her just yet (the recommended age range is 3-8) but it’s an important book covering a difficult topic so I am sharing it in the hope it may be helpful to you, our followers.
The Magical Wood was written to help small children deal with the emotions they may feel around bereavement, particularly the death of a close family member.
The wood is a beautiful place which is home to a family of trees. It’s a happy place visited by lots of little animals who love to play and splash in the river. One night there is a terrible storm and when the tree family wake up they discover that the Strongest Tree (one of the oldest trees in the wood) has fallen in the night and is no longer alive. The trees know that their lives have now changed forever and many tears are shed. How can they continue without the Strongest Tree?
Grandad’s Island is one of those books that I think every child should read. It covers the sensitive topic of bereavement but in a really smart and beautiful way which helps the child grasp the concept as best they can at a young age.
The story is about a little a little boy called Syd whose beloved Grandad lives in a house at the bottom of the garden. One day Syd pops around but he can’t find his Grandad anywhere. He searches the house and eventually finds him up in the attic where he has prepared an adventure.
They go through a magical door which takes them to a ship and then sail the oceans until they reach a tropical island. Look closely at the illustrations and you can see that the wonderful treasures on the island echo the pictures and keepsakes you see in Grandad’s house in the first few pages. On this island Grandad is surrounded by all of his favourite things – and he doesn’t need to use his walking stick to get around anymore! They build a shack, swim together in the waterfall and play with all of the exciting animals they find.