Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
Michael Rosen's Sad Book

Michael Rosen's Sad Book

Spring 2005 Picture Books
Ages: All Ages
Author: Michael Rosen
Illustrator: Quentin Blake
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 0-7636-2597-3
Hardcover Price: $16.99
"Sometimes sad is very big, it is everywhere. All over me." Author Michael Rosen tells how he feels after the loss of his son and mother. Sometimes memories of them brighten and lighten a moment. He seeks other ways to soften the grief. He tries to do one thing everyday that he can be proud of. It takes time to know that "sad doesn't mean bad." He tries to find any one thing that brings him pleasure, and makes himself write about his feelings. The style of most of the book set in comic strip form, helps the child reader sense life will become less daunting. Within the journal he constantly attempts to define sad, even including a poem. Sad happens to anyone, anywhere, anytime: " It comes along and finds you." This grieving father reflects on what finally makes him feel happy: birthdays, birthday cakes, candles, and lots of friends and family.

Rosen tells us about loss; Quentin Blake's illustrations show us pain. Blake reveals the darkness of grief as it envelops the father with gray, slate blue, and black colors. Whenever the man feels melancholy, gray creeps in as sadness moves to overshadow Rosen. His happy memories of his son and mother appear with bright soft blue, green, red, and gold pastels. Each of these illustrations shows joyous events. For example, as the father remembers Eddie, Blake's two-page spread includes eight small pictures beginning with Eddie as a baby, through different stages of his life, until he becomes a young man. The last picture is blank "because he's not here anymore." As glints of hope appear in the father's vision, Blake's drawings become bright with soft yellow light around the people, the birthday cakes, and the candles.

(p) With hard, hard work and luck, one can come out of grief into life.

Toni Rowden   ©2005 Parents' Choice

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