Michael Rosen’s Sad Book: A Beautiful Anatomy of Loss, Illustrated by Quentin Blake
An exploration of grief
“Sometimes I’m sad and I don’t know why. It’s just a cloud that comes along and covers me up.”
Available in different formats: Paperback, Hard Bound, and more.
“Grief, when it comes, is nothing like we expect it to be,” Joan Didion wrote after losing the love of her life. “The people we most love do become a physical part of us,” Meghan O’Rourke observed in her magnificent memoir of loss, “ingrained in our synapses, in the pathways where memories are created.” Those wildly unexpected dimensions of grief and the synaptic traces of love are what celebrated British children’s book writer and poet Michael Rosen confronted when his eighteen-year-old son Eddie died suddenly of meningitis. Never-ending though the process of mourning may be, Rosen set out to exorcise its hardest edges and subtlest shapes five years later in Michael Rosen’s Sad Book (public library) — an immensely moving addition to the finest children’s books about loss, illustrated by none other than the great Quentin Blake.
With extraordinary emotional elegance, Rosen welcomes the layers of grief, each unmasking a different shade of sadness — sadness that sneaks up on you mid-stride in the street; sadness that lurks as a backdrop to the happiest of moments; sadness that wraps around you like a shawl you don’t take off even in the shower.
What emerges is a breathtaking bow before the central paradox of the human experience — the awareness that the heart’s enormous capacity for love is matched with an equal capacity for pain, and yet we love anyway and somehow find fragments of that love even amid the ruins of loss.
Author: Michael Rosen
- Brand: Candlewick
- Color: Grey
- Edition: Illustrated
- Binding: Hardcover
- Format: Picture Book
- Number Of Pages: 32
- Release Date: 03-02-2005
Details: Product Description With unmitigated honesty, a touch of humor, and sensitive illustrations by Quentin Blake, Michael Rosen explores the experience of sadness in a way that resonates with us all. Sometimes I'm sad and I don’t know why. It's just a cloud that comes along and covers me up. 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 of. Expressively illustrated by the extraordinary Quentin Blake, this is a very personal story that speaks to everyone, from children to parents to grandparents, teachers to grief counselors. Whether or not you have known what it's like to feel deeply sad, the truth of this book will surely touch you.
From School Library Journal Starred Review. Grade 3 Up–This is a personal and moving account of the author's experiences with grief over the loss of his son and mother and various ways of dealing with the melancholy that attends it. "Sometimes sad is very big. It's everywhere. All over me." The gentle text assures readers that despair, anger, and hopelessness are common feelings when dealing with death, but that memories of happier times can elicit a spark of joy and optimism for the future. "And then I remember things. My mum in the rain. Eddie walking along the street, laughing and laughing and laughing."
Blake's evocative watercolor-and-ink illustrations use shades of gray for the pictures where sadness has taken hold but brighten with color at the memory of happy times. This story is practical and universal and will be of comfort to those who are working through their bereavement. A brilliant and distinguished collaboration. –Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI From Booklist *Starred Review* When we first received this book, I wanted to review it quickly and get it out of the way. It was so sad. Instead, I pushed it aside and kept pushing it aside--for the same reason. Finally, the book was getting late; it was time to deal with it.
As I sat down to write, I realized that my reaction to Rosen and Blake's provocative collaboration was based on the same impulses people have who are faced with real grief: deal with it quickly and say it's done, or sweep it under the rug for a time and then, finally, look at it squarely and begin the struggle. The book begins with a head shot of Rosen: "This is me being sad." But the picture shows him smiling, at least until you look more closely. Then you realize that the twist of his lips and teeth forms a grimace. The text goes on to say he's pretending because he thinks people won't like him if he's sad. In a clipped, first-person text, Rosen relates that he's sad because his son, Eddie, has died. Illustrated snaps of Eddie in Blake's signature scrawl show him as a baby, a boy, a teen. The last frame is blank.
The extent of Rosen's rage is staggering, but it's quiet, not loud (wouldn't want to scare the children, eh?). It pierces with its honesty: "Sometimes because I'm sad I do bad things. I can't tell you what they are. They're too bad. And it's not fair to the cat." (And, yes, kids will understand that this is black humor.) When the book is at its darkest--and Blake's black-and-gray linework wrests every bit of the agony from the understated words--there is despair.
The ways in which Rosen tries to comfort himself--by rationalizing that everyone has his or her own pain or by trying to do things he is proud of--only work a little. An adult reader may wonder at this point, Is the book even for young people? Is it too self-indulgent? To think that would be to dismiss the truth we all try to hide from sadness is part of the human condition. Children know this as well as ad
Package Dimensions: 11.7 x 8.9 x 0.5 inches