is, quite simply, magnificent. The words. The illustrations. All of it.
‘Those who leave live on through our living…’
We all have questions that need to be answered when someone we know dies, and quite particular questions when that death is from suicide.
This book asks questions from a child’s perspective and answers them clearly, with a reassuring sense of strength and comfort.
Elegy For An Elephant pays homage to a family who are looking to understand their great loss. It’s powerful, beautiful, visceral and totally appropriate for children over seven years old. Supported and endorsed by child grief professionals, this book fills a vital gap in helping children to understand - and to navigate – their own grief and loss.
‘A story of three children seeking their father’s soul. It honours ways we can connect with loved ones we have lost, and the timeless nature of love.’
Watercolour is the perfect vehicle for creating tender and powerful illustrations which are dreamy, washy sea and skyscapes (and sometimes both at the same time!). The added use of mixed media including salt from various places with significance to the author/illustrator, creates incredibly starry textures that you just want to reach out and touch. The wonder of these pictures is sublime.
Land-dwelling creatures living under the sea, sea-faring creatures flying the sky – this book gave me goosebumps and ignited my sense of awe on almost every page. I pored over the landscapes with their varied perspectives and points of view, along with the unusual beauty of this book, for a long time. A long time.
In fact, I adored almost everything about it. Especially so, the intent with which it was written – to honour those who are left behind after a bewildering and confronting death – and to place in their hearts and minds the tools, understandings and self-belief to acknowledge their feelings, and to move forward when it’s the right time for them.
We know that picture books touch readers in many ways. This one reached straight into my heart in the best way, and it’s possible that I won’t ever be quite the same again.
With a list of further information and support services at the back of the book, and a donation from every book sold to relevant organisations, Elegy For An Elephant is highly recommended.
Title: Elegy For An Elephant
Author Illustrator: Ryan Abramowitz
Publisher: Narratives Of Nature, $29.99
Publication Date: 10 September 2023
For ages: 7 +
Type: Picture Book