Saturday, May 06, 2006

This Book Is For All Kids, But Especially My Sister Libby. Libby Died.

This Book Is For All Kids, But Especially My Sister Libby. Libby Died.
By Jack Simon, Age 5, As Told To His Mom, Usually At Bedtime.

Elizabeth Margaret Simon (Libby) was born with a rare disorder and not expected to survive six months; she lived for three and a half years.

Her five year old brother Jack was left, trying to understand what had happened. And his mother, Annette, grieving for her lost daughter had to be there for her son. She started a diary of Jack's words; and that diary became this book.

It's a heart breaker. How can it not be?

The first page after the title is filled with words on a white background:

DID YOU HEAR ME?
SHE DIED.


What follows is a child trying to figure out death, dying, what happens after, what happens to the survivors:

and when you die, you don't have to get chicken pox

and

I would like to ask her a sad question, too . . . Like how much does she love us and miss us.

This is a book that speaks to loss and to getting up every day after that loss and trying to understand what it all means. Hey, Libby... did you get the balloons we flew up for your birthday?

Simon uses simple designs so that the words are emphasized; the simplicity of design also gives the reader breathing room, to sort through their own feelings.

Who is this book for? For those who have lost. As with any loss, what works when and how is very much up to the individual. But I can easily see a parent, who is trying to help a child during a time when they themselves are needing help, using this book as a way to connect with their child and finding comfort for themselves.

An interview with the author, Annette Simon, is at Austin Mama. Simon wrote and illustrated mocking birdies.

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