My Best Friend

A mysterious shadow walks the corridors. It goes from room to room, and sometimes leaves with someone in its arms, taking them to the land of dreams. Until one day a patient at the hospital―a young child―speaks to the shadow, offering it a drink of water. The child is fearful at first, but as he gets to know the shadow through their conversations, he realizes that she has feelings of her own. So begins a great friendship between an unlikely pair: a young child, and Death.

Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez

Every afternoon at four o’clock, Mister Rodriguez steps out of a narrow laneway and strolls through the street. The village children watch him go, ever more curious about the enigmatic old man with the bushy white mustache. Some say they’ve seen him float above the ground. Others say he played a piano without touching a single key. The truth, though, is more beautiful than any of the children could have imagined.

A Stopwatch From Grampa

Loretta Garbutt uses subtlety and sensitivity to explore the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) in this moving picture book story of loss. It features a gender-neutral main character (no first name or pronouns are given) making the story universally relatable. This is a perfect choice for fostering discussions with children about their emotions, particularly the feeling of loss. It also offers a poignant representation of an intergenerational relationship between a grandfather and grandchild. Carmen Mok’s expressive and thoughtful illustrations employ a limited color palette to convey the character’s emotional trajectory. There are curriculum applications here in social-emotional development as well as character education lessons in caring and resilience.

The Color Of The Sun

One hot summer morning, only weeks after his father’s death, Davie steps out his front door into the familiar streets of the Tyneside town that has always been his home. But this seemingly ordinary day takes on an air of mystery and tragedy as the residents learn that a boy has been killed. Despite the threat of a murderer on the loose, Davie turns away from the gossip and sets off toward the sunlit hill above town, where the real and imaginary worlds begin to blur around him. As he winds his way up the hillside, Davie sees things that seem impossible but feel utterly right, that renew his wonder and instill him with hope. Full of the intense excitement of growing up, David Almond’s tale leaves both the reader and Davie astonished at the world and eager to explore it. Award-winning author David Almond pens the dreamlike tale of a boy rediscovering joy and beauty within and around him, even amid sorrow.

Grandpa’s Soup

When Grandma dies, Grandpa is too sad to do anything. All day long, day after day, he sits by himself in his house. Then, one day, Grandpa wakes up and realizes he misses the soup his wife used to make for him. So he decides to try to make the soup himself. Though each batch he makes is bigger and better than the last, Granpda hardly gets a taste of it. Unexpected visitors, hungry for soup, keep arriving at his door. Soon, Grandpa discovers that sharing with his new friends is the best cure for his loneliness.

Paula Knows What To Do

One Saturday morning, Daddy won’t get out of bed. He misses Paula’s mom. Paula misses her too, but she realizes that Mommy wouldn’t want them to be sad forever. Paula knows just what to do. Taking out paper and paints, Paula creates a world of rolling seas, blue skies, and―best of all―a boat that she and Dad can sail together. And when the wind blows up a storm, Paula knows just what she and Daddy can do about that too. In this sweet and poignant story about memory and overcoming grief, Sanne Dufft, the author/illustrator of The Night Lion shows how a child’s imagination can find a moment of joy and a safe place to land after a loved one is gone.