The TRC (Teaching Resource Collection), on level 5 of the library, houses a wonderland of fiction for all ages. I have chosen three books with death as a common theme, which differ in format and age suitability. They all have fabulous illustrations.
Old Pig by Margaret Wild
In a former life, I read stories to young children at Floreat Forum during the school holidays. The children frequently asked me to read Old Pig. Eventually I had to remove the book from the choosing pile because I couldn’t read it without crying. This is a read aloud book which deals with mortality but also celebrates life. Old Pig and Granddaughter (who is also a pig) live together and have a very special relationship. But Old Pig is preparing for her death. She and Granddaughter take a long last look at nature’s wonders before saying goodbye to each other, each in their own way. The earthy pencil and watercolour illustrations by Ron Brooks are perfectly in tune with the soft text, which is never cloying or didactic. Nature in all its autumnal beauty is a colourful background to a poignant story. Suitable for 4 – 6 year olds.
The Rabbits by John Marsden and Shaun Tan
This hard-hitting allegory about colonisation only has a few lines of text on each page, surrounded by Shaun Tan’s artwork, which ranges in style from industrial to fancy historical to a few simple line drawings amidst broad expanses of solid black. A tale of invasion, degradation and destruction, the story is confronting and quite strange. Is it a graphic novel? Is it a picture book? Is it a young adult book? I have no idea. It is probably not for very young readers. The book resonated with me on an emotional level to the extent that it made the hairs on the back of my neck rise with some of its chilling observations. Suitable for most ages.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Yet another amazing read from the master of the unusual. Following the murder of his entire family, Bod, a toddler, finds himself in a graveyard. He is adopted and raised by ghosts and a partly living dude. But his guardians (and some other quaint and colourful historical ghosts) can’t protect Bod forever, and he must eventually re-join the living. The book reads like a book of short stories, with Bod getting a bit older in each story. Highlights for me were the jolly Danse Macabre, where the dead dance with the living, and Bod’s absence of fear. Suitable for ten years and up.
About the Author
Jude Bridge is a library technician in Flexible Delivery and Lending Services at Curtin Library. Find out more about her here.