It’s not nice reading about death and it’s not nice reading about the loss of a beloved pet. But books tackling these issues can be very helpful for children if the subject is dealt with in a thoughtful and gentle way.
New to paperback is Harry & Hopper by Margaret Wild. It’s about a little boy, Harry, and his playful puppy, Hopper (named because, like a grasshopper, he jumps everywhere). Harry and Hopper are best friends, ‘teaching’ each other things and spending every possible moment together (except when Harry is at school). Each afternoon, Hopper waits excitedly at the gate for Harry to return home. But one day, Hopper is not waiting at the gate for Harry. There’s been an accident and Harry’s father tells him that Hopper has died. What follows is Harry slowly working his way through his grief until he can finally say goodbye.
Freya Blackwood’s emotive illustrations are very special particularly Hopper as a playful puppy, bounding onto the page in a whirl of black and white swiggles and Harry, sitting glumly remembering Hopper while school life goes on around him.
Margaret Wild almost has a corner on the market with her sensitive books about difficult topics (see our previous review on books dealing with death suitable for children) and Harry & Hopper is no exception – be warned, you might cry! What I particularly like about this book is that it shows that people grieve in different ways and in their own time.