'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 10 October 2020

Review: Searching For Seashells

Jimmy is the beloved baby brother of a young boy who lives by the sea. Jimmy is more than a brother. 

He’s the type of best friend who loves playing with bubbles and searching for seashells. But like a fragile bubble blowing away in the sea breeze, Jimmy is gone now. And his brother grieves.

His heart and head hurt. Tears flow. Confusion, denial, anger, and utter despair take over the boy’s life. 

His parents do their best to honour Jimmy’s brief life and console their remaining son who feels the loss just as keenly. 

His mum sympathises with him, lies with him in Jimmy’s bed and reminds him that Jimmy is always there, will always love them. 

And this, along with the passing of time eventually allows Jimmy’s brother to repair and reconstruct a normalcy of living without him.

This touching picture book subtly and ably drifts through the various stages of grief following the death of a loved one.  At each stage gentle reminders that it is okay to feel a certain way are reinforced with actions and thoughts that acknowledge and soothe. Jimmy’s brother unwittingly experiences all these stages even passing through oceans of guilt after he experiences happiness again…without Jimmy.  He reacts in ways that are typical of young children. He draws pictures for Jimmy, sends him lots and lots of seashells; his brother is never far from his thoughts.

Rosser’s narrative is uncomplicated and gently repetitive representing the initial disbelief and non-acceptance of Jimmy’s passing experienced by his brother. He desperately wills him to return, tempting him with his favourite things, with seashells. Johnston’s calming water coloured illustrations smooth away the sharp edges of grief like an incoming tide; each page suffused in seaside tones of sandy yellows and sea-glass greens and blues. I especially love the front and back cover image which suggests a beginning and undefined ending…a bit like life itself.

While nothing can replace the loss of a loved one, Searching For Seashells, provides a comforting platform from which families may find ways to reassure those left behind and remember those they’ve lost, together. It is also an excellent example of the ability of picture books to empower understanding and initiate discussion about the ‘bigger issues’ in life.

Title: Searching For Seashells
Author: Kerry Rosser
Illustrator: Nicky Johnston
Publisher: Empowering Resources, $ 17.00
Publication Date: September 2020                                          
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781925592276
For ages: 3 – 6
Type: Picture Book