Our Chapter & Verse Book Clubs read three books about death, written for children, in April of 2017. We’ve updated this list with newer books in October, 2022. Several of our librarian members stated that they receive many requests from patrons for books that help children understand death. Our members around the country put their heads together to make recommendations of books they felt are excellent stories and discussion starters for families. They are presented in alphabetical order by title. There are books suggested for many age ranges from picture books to books for teens. And, as with most good children’s books, these are good reading for adults as well.
(Thanks to all of the people who have contributed to this list: Patricia Bauer, Nancy Bo Flood, Margaret Hall, Paula Huddy, Susan Oleanna, Ramona from Slice of Life, Carmela McCain Simmons, and Tricia Springstubb.)
You may find that some of these books are out of print. If you feel the subject matter fits your situation, please contact your local public library — the book may be available through interlibrary loan.
After Life: Ways We Think about Death
written by Merrie-Ellen Wilcox
Orca Publishing, 2018
For ages 8 to 12 (and older), a look at the science and culture of death, dying, and grief. Each chapter includes a brief telling of a death legend, myth or history from a different culture or tradition, from Adam and Eve to Wolf and Coyote, and ends with a section on a common theme in our thinking about death, such as rivers and birds in the afterlife, the colors that different cultures use to symbolize death, and, of course, ghosts. The final chapter is about grief, which is both a universal human experience and unique to each person. The text offers suggestions for ways to think about our grief, when to ask for help and how to talk to friends who are grieving.
All Around Us
written by Xelena Gonzalez, illus by Adriana M. Garcia
Cinco Puntas Press, 2017
For ages 3 to 7, a young girl and her grandfather look at the circles in nature and the cycles in life. They discuss the earth, planting and harvesting, and life, from birth to death. It’s a book filled with images that will stay with you for a long time.
All Three Stooges
written by Erica S. Perl
The close friendship of two best friends, Noah and Dash, is heavily tested when Dash’s father commits suicide. Dash withdraws from Noah and Noah isn’t sure how to breach the wall. The two have always shared a love of comedy and Noah tries his best because he needs his friend book. Noa, a girl in Dash and Noah’s Hebrew class, adds to the texture of the story, as does an interwoven history of famous Jewish comedians. This book is full of humor, heart, and understanding … share this as a family read-aloud.
Badger’s Parting Gifts
written and illustrated by Susan Varley
When Badger dies, his friends are very sad. Each of them finds a gift that Badger gave them and shares the story of the gift with the others, which helps them all to understand what made Badger so special to them.
Beat the Turtle Drum
written by Constance Greene
Viking Penguin, 1976
Two sisters, one gregarious and one more introspective, are best friends, exploring life together. One of them is horse-crazy and the other tries to understand what it is about a horse that makes her sister so entranced. Then one day, there’s an accident, and life changes dramatically for this family.
Big Cat, Little Cat
written and illus by Elisha Cooper
Roaring Brook Press, 2017
A big cat befriends a little cat. This story follows the two cats through their days, months, and years until one day, the older cat has to go. And he doesn’t come back. A poignant story about the act of moving on.
Bridge to Terabithia
written by Katherine Paterson
Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer so he can be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. And he almost is, until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, outpaces him. The two become fast friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie’s house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia. One morning, Leslie goes to Terabithia without Jess and a tragedy occurs. It will take the love of his family and the strength that Leslie has given him for Jess to be able to deal with his grief.
Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole
written by Michelle Cuevas
Dial Books, 2017
When Stella Rodriguez visits NASA to contribute to the Golden Record, a black hole follows her home. Meaning to become a pet, it swallows up everything it touches (as a black hole would). That’s convenient for getting rid of gifts she doesn’t love … and for things that remind her painfully of her father who has recently died. When the black hole eats her, her brother, and her dog, she comes to a realization about grief. At turns funny and touching, this is a good empathy-building book for ages 8 to 12.
written by E.B. White, illus by Garth Williams
Harper & Brothers, 1952
Charlotte’s Web is the story of a little girl named Fern who loved a little pig named Wilbur — and of Wilbur’s dear friend Charlotte A. Cavatica, a beautiful large grey spider who lived with Wilbur in the barn. With the help of Templeton, the rat who never did anything for anybody unless there was something in it for him, and by a wonderfully clever plan of her own, Charlotte saved the life of Wilbur, who by this time had grown up to be some pig. This is a story of a great friendship, and loss, and dealing with grief.
City Dog, Country Frog
written by Mo Willems, illus by Jon J Muth
Hyperion Books, 2010
When a dog from the city is allowed to run free in the country, he comes across a frog sitting on a rock who is waiting for a friend. Together they play games and have adventures, becoming good friends. As the seasons pass, and the city dog returns to the country, he always looks up his friend so they can play together. Then, on a trip to the country, frog is no longer then. The city dog must deal with the loss. A very special, warm-hearted book that will open up discussions with your young children.
Clayton Bird Goes Underground
written by Rita Williams-Garcia, illus by Frank Morrison
Clayton resonates with his grandfather’s music, the blues. Although Clayton is young, Cool Papa Byrd lets him play his blues harp (harmonica) when he and the Bluesmen perform. Clayton emulates his grandfather, loves him completely, wants desperately to understand the blues. But Clayton’s mother harbors resentments about her dad and his always being on the road when she was growing up. When Cool Papa Bird dies unexpectedly, Clayton knows he must play the blues … and his mother forbids him. Clayton runs away from home, trying to find the Bluesmen so he can join them on tour. Things don’t go quite as planned and suddenly life, and the blues, take on new meanings.
Cry, Heart, But Never Break
written by Glenn Ringvedt, illus by Charlotte Pardi
Enchanted Lion Books, 2016
This is one of the books we read for Chapter & Verse. People felt it tells the story of death quite sensitively. Aware their grandmother is gravely ill, four siblings make a pact to keep death from taking her away. But Death does arrive all the same, as it must. He comes gently, naturally. And he comes with enough time to share a story with the children that helps them to realize the value of loss to life and the importance of being able to say goodbye.
Do Fish Sleep?
written by Jens Raschke and Jens Rassmus
Illustrated by Belinda Cooper
Enchanted Lion Books, 2019
Some people die when they’re very old, and some when they’re young. Only one thing’s for certain: none of us escape it. A fact and absurdity not lost on this winning ten-year-old. Sick since even before Jette can remember, her brother Emil now has died. The feelings that losing him evoke in her are huge and confusing. Most simply, it feels as though a dark rain cloud has descended over her family. And then there’s the ridiculous fact that nobody seems to know what happens after you die, and yet adults often talk as if they do. This is an honest, darkly funny look into loss, memory, and the search for answers.
Death is Stupid
written and illustrated by Anastasia Higginbotham
Feminist Press at CUNY, 2016
In a starred review, Publishers Weekly wrote, “It’s [an] exact mix of true-to-life humor and unflinching honesty that makes Higginbotham’s book work so well, and many of the plainspoken sentiments she includes, as well as several included ideas for how to remember and honor those who have departed, may be eye-opening for readers facing grief themselves.” If your child, ages 4 and up, will benefit from direct responses, share this book with them.
written and illustrated by Cynthia Rylant
Blue Sky Press, 1995
Specifically written for very young children who are grieving the loss of a dog, Rylant portrays heaven as a place where dogs are free to roam and play and God is a kindly man dispensing dog biscuits. The details are plentiful, creating a loving picture of a restful place. There is a companion volume, Cat Heaven.
Duck, Death and the Tulip
written and illustrated by Wold Erlbruch
Gecko Press, 2016
When Death appears behind Duck one summer day, Duck is alarmed. Has Death come to claim Duck? But they spend the summer together, growing comfortable with each other, offering advice and gestures of friendship. When it is time for Duck to die, Death shows great respect, sending Duck afloat down a river with a red tulip on its breast. The art and the story work beautifully together in this book for ages 10 and up.
Fall of Freddy the Leaf: a Story of Life for All Ages
written by Leo Buscaglia
Stack, Inc., 1982
This story tells about death through the metaphor of leaves on trees. Freddie and his companion leaves change with the passing seasons, finally falling to the ground with winter’s snow, an allegory that illustrates the delicate balance between life and death.
written and illustrated by Matt James
Groundwood Books, 2018
Going to her great-uncle’s funeral, Norma is looking forward to a day off of school and a chance to play with her favorite cousin. She is “practicing her sad face in the mirror of her parents’ room. Though she was, in fact, pretty happy.” The serious nature of the day takes hold as Norma observes and contemplates other people’s feelings and questions: “Is Uncle Frank still a person?” This is a good book for children attending their first funeral or memorial service. The artwork is nuanced and evocative.
The Goodbye Book
written and illustrated by Todd Parr
Little, Brown, 2016
Told from the perspective of a lonely fish, this book deals with the big questions and emotions of losing someone close to you, whether it’s a human or a pet. The Goodbye Book is reassuring that pain will ease with time and memories and the support of others around you.
The Heart and the Bottle
written and illus by Oliver Jeffers
Philomel Books, 2010
There is a wonder and magic to childhood. We don’t realize it at the time, of course … yet the adults in our lives do. They encourage us to see things in the stars, to find joy in colors and laughter as we play.
But what happens when that special someone who encourages such wonder and magic is no longer around? We can hide, we can place our heart in a bottle and grow up … or we can find another special someone who understands the magic. And we can encourage them to see things in the stars, find joy among colors and laughter as they play. This is a book that addresses loss, painful emotions, and finding one’s way back.
written by Arthur Yorkins, illus by Richard Egielski
Golden Books, 1986
Al, a janitor, and his faithful dog, Eddie, live in a single room on the West Side. They eat together, they work together, they do everything together. So what’s the problem? Life is hard. When a mysterious bird offers to lead them to paradise, they agree. They’re soon living a life of luxury. But things aren’t as green as they seem.
written Carol Levis, illus by Charles Santoso
In this picture book, two polar bears are best friends and they know they will always be. But then Ida gets sick and it’s clear that she is dying, and Gus realizes he will be alone. They talk and cuddle and share their love for each other. Gus realizes that Ida will be with him always, even after she has died. It’s a gorgeous book with an equally beautiful story to tell.
The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children
written by Bryan Mellonie, illus by Robert Ingpen
For ages 5 to 8, this book was recommended by several child psychologists because it looks at the life cycles of plants, animals, and humans in an understated but comforting way, accompanied by soothing illustrations.
The Line Tender
written by Kate Allen
Wherever the sharks led, Lucy Everhart’s marine-biologist mother was sure to follow. In fact, she was on a boat far off the coast of Massachusetts, collecting shark data when she died suddenly. Lucy was seven. Since then Lucy and her father have kept their heads above water — thanks in large part to a few close friends and neighbors. But June of her twelfth summer brings more than the end of school and a heat wave to sleepy Rockport. On one steamy day, the tide brings a great white — and then another tragedy, cutting short a friendship everyone insists was “meaningful” but no one can tell Lucy what it all meant. To survive the fresh wave of grief, Lucy must grab the line that connects her depressed father, a stubborn fisherman, and a curious old widower to her mother’s unfinished research on the Great White’s return to Cape Cod. If Lucy can find a way to help this unlikely quartet follow the sharks her mother loved, she’ll finally be able to look beyond what she’s lost and toward what’s left to be discovered.
Map into the World
written by Kao Kalia Yang, illus by Seo Kim
Carolrhoda Books, 2019
As the seasons change, so too does a young Hmong girl’s world. She moves into a new home with her family and encounters both birth and death. As this curious girl explores life inside her house and beyond, she collects bits of the natural world. But who are her treasures for?
The Memory Box: a Book about Grief
written by Joanna Rowland, illus by Thea Baker
Beaming Books, 2017
“I’m scared I’ll forget you…” From the perspective of a young child, Joanna Rowland artfully describes what it is like to remember and grieve a loved one who has died. The child in the story creates a memory box to keep mementos and written memories of the loved one, to help in the grieving process. Heartfelt and comforting, The Memory Box will help children and adults talk about this very difficult topic together.
written and illustrated by Britta Teckentrup
Orchard Books, 2014
Fox lies down in his beloved forest and takes his last breath. As animal friends gather around him, they share their favorite stories about the ways Fox was important in their lives. As they speak, a tree grows behind them, a memory tree, that will provide for and protect them, just as their friend Fox did. A picture book for ages 5 and up.
Michael Rosen’s Sad Book
written by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Quentin Blake
Candlewick Press, 2005
“Sometimes sad is very big. It’s everywhere. All over me.” Sad things happen to everyone, and sometimes people feel sad for no reason at all. What makes Michael Rosen sad is thinking about his son, Eddie, who died suddenly at the age of eighteen. In this book the author writes about his sadness, how it affects him, and some of the things he does to cope with it — like telling himself that everyone has sad stuff (not just him) and trying every day to do something he can be proud to have done.
Mick Harte Was Here
written by Barbara Park
Random House, 1995
“I don’t want to make you cry. I just want to tell you about Mick. But I thought you should know right up front that he’s not here anymore. I just thought that would be fair.” Phoebe’s brother, Mick, was one of the funniest, coolest kids you’d ever meet — the kid who made you laugh until your stomach hurt, even if you were mad at him. He was the kid you’d want to be friends with. So how can he be gone? And how will Phoebe’s family survive without him?
written by Cynthia Rylant
Orchard Books, Scholastic, 1992
When May dies suddenly while gardening, Summer assumes she’ll never see her beloved aunt again. But then Summer’s Uncle Ob claims that May is on her way back – she has sent a sign from the spirit world.
Summer isn’t sure she believes in the spirit world, but her quirky classmate Cletus Underwood – who befriends Ob during his time of mourning — does. So at Cletus’ suggestion, Ob and Summer (with Cletus in tow) set off in search of Miriam B. Young, Small Medium at Large, whom they hope will explain May’s departure and confirm her possible return.
Missing Mommy: a Book about Bereavement
written by Rebecca Cobb
Henry Holt, 2013
Written from a young boy’s point of view, with words and drawings appropriate for someone his age, this is a straightforward story that explores the many emotions a bereaved child may experience, from anger and guilt to sadness and bewilderment. Ultimately, Missing Mommy focuses on the positive―the recognition that the child is not alone but still part of a family that loves and supports him.
written by Melanie Florence, illus by François Thisdale
Clockwise Press, 2015
A young Cree girl talks with her grandmother about her missing mother. That young mother, one of many missing indigenous women, watches over her daughter in spirit, observing her first day of school, her first dance, her wedding, and the birth of her own child. Told in alternating voices with beautifully affecting illustrations, this is a book that not only helps us understand an unexplained loss, but also highlights the tragic disappearance of indigenous women in North America. Back matter provides an age-appropriate explanation and a glossary of Cree terms.
A Monster Calls
written by Patrick Ness
Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd
Candlewick Press, 2011
At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting, the one from the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd — whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself — Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.
My Big Dumb Invisible Dragon
written by Angie Lucas, illus by Birgitta Sif
Sounds True, 2019
Ahen a young boy loses his mother, an invisible dragon swoops in and perches on top of his head. A most unwelcome guest, the dragon follows him to school, sleeps on his chest at night (making it hard for him to breathe), and even crashes his birthday party. As the boy comes to terms with his mother’s death, however, his relationship with the dragon changes in surprising ways. The book shows that healing takes time and that it’s OK to experience a wide range of emotions as you process a really big loss.
My Father’s Arms Are a Boat
written by Stein Erik Lunde, illus by Oyvind Torseter
translated by Kari Dickson
Enchanted Lion Books, 2013
It’s quieter than it’s ever been. Unable to sleep, a young boy climbs into his father’s arms. Feeling the warmth and closeness of his father, he begins to ask questions about the birds, the foxes, and whether his mom will ever wake up. They go outside under the starry sky. Loss and love are as present as the white spruces, while the father’s clear answers and assurances calm his worried son.
My Father’s Words
written by Patricia MacLachlan
Katherine Tegen Books / HarperCollins, 2018
In the midst of a loving family, Finn and Fiona are secure in their parents’ love and caring. When their father meets with an accident, they must learn how to cope without him. A friend suggests they work at an animal rescue shelter, which may be their way out of the sorrow. A caring, gentle book.
Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs
written and illustrated by Tomie de Paola
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1997
Tommy is four years old, and he loves visiting the home of his grandmother, Nana Downstairs, and his great-grandmother, Nana Upstairs. But one day Tommy’s mother tells him Nana Upstairs won’t be there anymore, and Tommy must struggle with saying goodbye to someone he loves. This is a quiet story about a loving family.
The Next Place
written and illustrated by Warren Hanson
Waldman House Press, 2002
Several librarians recommended this book as one that brings comfort after loss. With words and paintings, it depicts a journey of light and hope to a place where earthly hurts are left behind.
Ocean Meets Sky
written and illustrated by Terry Fan and Eric Fan
Simon & Schuster, 2018
In a tour-de-force of illustration and storytelling, the Fan Brothers share the story of Finn, who planned an ocean voyage with his beloved grandfather. After grandfather’s death, Finn builds a boat to take that voyage on what would have been his grandfather’s 90th birthday. With this gesture of honor and respect, sailing to the place where the ocean meets the sky, Finn finds comfort, sailing through pages of wonder until his mother calls him home.
On My Honor
written by Marion Dane Bauer
Houghton Mifflin, 1987
Joel’s best friend Tony drowns while they are swimming in the forbidden, treacherous Vermilion River. Joel is terrified at having to tell of his disobedience and overwhelmed by his feelings of guilt. This moving account tackles a difficult subject with understanding. A fine book for opening discussions about death and guilt.
The Rabbit Listened
written and illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld
Dial Books, 2018
When something sad happens, Taylor doesn’t know where to turn. All the animals are sure they have the answer. The chicken wants to talk it out, but Taylor doesn’t feel like chatting. The bear thinks Taylor should get angry, but that’s not quite right either. One by one, the animals try to tell Taylor how to act, and one by one they fail to offer comfort. Then the rabbit arrives. All the rabbit does is listen … which is just what Taylor needs.
written by Lesléa Newman
illustrated by Tracy Nishimura Bishop
Magination Press, 2020
Ethan. Ethan. Ethan. Sarah misses her adored big brother with all her heart. She wants to celebrate all the fun times she and her parents spent with him. But ever since Ethan died, Mommy and Daddy won’t mention him. Sarah can’t even say his name without upsetting them. Why don’t they want to remember Ethan? This is a tender tribute to a lost family member that can help families begin healing.
written and illustrated by Brian Lies
Greenwillow Books, 2018
Evan, a fox, and his dog share many adventures, including gardening and the county fair. When his dog dies, Evan is inconsolable. He neglects his garden and it becomes overgrown and weedy. In a corner of the garden, a giant pumpkin begins growing and soon it becomes clear it must be entered in the county fair. Evan returns to one of his favorite places, meeting up with friends, old and new.
written by Charlotte Moundlic, illus by Olivier Tallec
Candlewick Press, 2011
When the boy in this story wakes to find that his mother has died, he is overwhelmed with sadness, anger, and fear that he will forget her. He shuts all the windows to keep in his mother’s familiar smell and scratches open the cut on his knee to remember her comforting voice. He doesn’t know how to speak to his dad anymore, and when Grandma visits and throws open the windows, it’s more than the boy can take – until his grandmother shows him another way to feel that his mom’s love is near.
The Shared Room
written by Kao Kalia Yang, illus by Xee Reiter
University of Minnesota Press, 2020
When someone you love dies, you know what doesn’t die? Love. On the hot beach, among colorful umbrellas blooming beneath a bright sun, no one saw a little girl walk into the water. Now, many months later, her bedroom remains empty, her drawers hold her clothes, her pillows and sheets still have her scent, and her mother and father, brothers and sister carry her in their hearts, along with their grief, which takes up so much space. The Shared Room brings a message of comfort and hope to readers young and old.
Something Very Sorry
written by Arno Bohlmeijer
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1996
For ages 12 and up, this is the true story of a young girl’s struggle to come to terms with a tragedy. This sober narration reveals the private voice of a girl as she copes with the aftermath of a car accident: her mother’s death, the injuries of her father and sister, and her own grief, anger, and fear of the future. It’s a poignant story of a difficult family situation.
A Summer to Die
written by Lois Lowry
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1977
Meg isn’t thrilled when she gets stuck sharing a bedroom with her older sister Molly. The two of them couldn’t be more different, and it’s hard for Meg to hide her resentment of Molly’s beauty and easy popularity. But Molly’s constant grouchiness, changing appearance, and other complaints are not just part of being moody. The day Molly is rushed to the hospital, Meg has to accept that there is something terribly wrong with her sister. That’s the day Meg’s world changes forever. Is it too late for Meg to show how she really feels?
Tear Soup: a Recipe for Healing After Loss
written by Pat Schweibert and Chuck DeKlyen
illus by Taylor Bills
Grief Watch, 2005
An inspirational book of wisdom about living and growing with grief. After experiencing loss, tears are a part of life, sometimes for months and sometimes for years. This book is meant to bring comfort for ages 12 through adult. Highly recommended by educators, librarians, and parents for grieving children.
The Tenth Good Thing about Barney
written by Judith Viorst, illus by Erik Blegvad
“My cat Barney died this Friday. I was very sad. My mother said we could have a funeral for him, and I should think of ten good things about Barney so I could tell them…” But the small boy who loved Barney can only think of nine. Later, while talking with his father, he discovers the tenth — and begins to understand.
The Thing About Jellyfish
Everyone says that it was an accident, that sometimes things “just happen.” But Suzy won’t believe it. Ever. After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy was a rare jellyfish sting. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory — even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe — and the potential for love and hope right next door.
written by Natalie Babbitt
Rinehart and Winston, 1999
The Tuck family is confronted with an agonizing situation when they discover that a ten-year-old girl and a malicious stranger now share their secret about a spring whose water prevents one from ever growing older. A classic story, this book is much discussed in homes and classrooms, from ages 10 and up through adult. It’s a story so well told that you can’t help considering the big questions.
Walking Grandma Home
written by Nancy Bo Flood, illus by Ellen Shi
When Grandma tells Lee she will soon be “going home,” Lee is confused. Isn’t Grandma already home? But as Grandma’s health gets worse and her death approaches, Lee learns what it means to “walk Grandma home” to heaven, while also reflecting on his good memories and dealing with his grief alongside his extended family.
What is Goodbye?
written by Nikki Grimes, illus by Raúl Colón
This is the book I recommend most often for children ages 9 through adult. Jerilyn and Jesse have lost their beloved older brother. Each of them deals with Jaron’s death differently. Jerilyn tries to keep it in and hold it together; Jesse acts out. But after a year of anger, pain, and guilt, they come to understand that it’s time to move on. It’s time for a new family picture — with one piece missing, yet whole again. Through the alternating voices of a brother and sister, Nikki Grimes eloquently portrays the grieving process in this gem of a book that is honest, powerful, and ultimately hopeful.
When Dinosaurs Die: a Guide to Understanding Death
written by Laurie Krasny Brown, illus by Marc Brown
Little Brown, 1998
No one can really understand death, but to children, the passing away of a loved one can be especially perplexing and troublesome. This is true whether the loss is a classmate, friend, family member, or pet. In this book, wisdom is shared by dinosaurs, providing answers to kids’ most-often-asked questions, exploring the feelings we may have regarding the death of a loved one, and the ways to remember someone after he or she has died.
Where the Red Fern Grows
written by Wilson Rawls
Billy Coleman dreams of owning not one, but two, dogs. So when he’s finally able to save up enough money for two pups to call his own — Old Dan and Little Ann — he’s ecstatic. It doesn’t matter that times are tough; together they’ll roam the hills of the Ozarks. Soon Billy and his hounds become the finest hunting team in the valley. Stories of their great achievements spread throughout the region, and the combination of Old Dan’s brawn, Little Ann’s brains, and Billy’s sheer will seems unbeatable. But tragedy awaits these determined hunters — now friends — and Billy learns that hope can grow out of despair, and that the seeds of the future can come from the scars of the past.
written by Paul Fleischman
Henry Holt, 1998
When Brent Bishop is outraged at a high school party, he drives away hurt, furious, and out of control. He drives recklessly, determined to kill himself, but kills a girl instead, a high school senior with a bright future. Filled with guilt, Brent wants to make restitution. The girl’s mother asks him to create whirligigs and set them up in the four corners of the United States. We follow Brent on his journey, meeting the people whose lives he affects and who change his life.
Great list. I would add Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varley.
Thank you for the suggestion, Ramona. I’ve added that book to the list. You’re right, it belongs there!
And Erica Perl’s ALL THREE STOOGES. Heartbreaking but also humorous.
Thanks for your recommendation, Carolyn. We’ll add that title shortly.
Wonderful list! Thank you
You’re welcome, Joanne.
May I recommend Newbery Medal winning author Patricia MacLaughlin’s 2018 middle grade novel My Father’s Words be added to this list?
Thank you for the suggestion, Carmela, for Ms. MacLachlan’s brand new book. We’ve added the book to the article … and I appreciate the heads-up. I’ve checked the book out of the library.
Another picture book I like is City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems
And the novel Line Tender by Allen Kate
Great list! Thanks, Vicki! I’ve also used “The Tenth Good Thing About Barney” by Judith Viorst, many times. It works so well to have kids write lists of things that they loved about the animal or person who died.
This is a wonderful, inclusive list. I’d add the very moving, very uplifting picture book, Big Cat, Little Cat, by Elisha Cooper.
Thank you, Tricia, for this excellent suggestion. We’ve added the book to this list.