Wednesday 5 October 2011
The sad book
I don't write about children's books very often, mainly because I don't read them much these days, but I was drawn to the cover of Michael Rosen's Sad Book when I saw it in Julie's living room this afternoon. The title strikes you for a start and the front cover picture, which is all grey. I sat and read it to myself. It is a sad book. It is a children's book and it is about his son who died and how sad it made him feel. It is the most beautifully written book, not mawkish or sentimental, just poignant and gently heartbreaking. It describes how upset and angry it made him feel to have his life so changed by the death of his son, how much he misses him and the things it made him think and do. Then it describes the things he tries to do to make himself feel better, sometimes they work, sometimes they don't, and the sadness never really goes away. It is so perfect because it is so honest. It does not say that it is in any way wrong to feel sad about things, and does not try to have any answers or cures for feeling sad. It just acknowledges that sometimes this is just the way you feel and you can't do anything about it. In the world of children's stories that is so dominated by enforced bright cheerfulness it is wonderful to find someone prepared to write such a book.