It was a difficult choice to write about this book – you see my aim is to write about books that not only I love but ones my kids love too. My kids DO NOT love this book. You see this book tackles the scariest subject in all of our lives … death. There really is no way to make this topic ‘nice’ but I can’t think of a book which comes nearer.
You may remember Wolf Erlbruch for the wonderful tale of the Little Mole Who Knew it Was None of his Business. Whilst that book captured all of our hearts (especially kids who, let’s face it, love a mention of poo) this story of Duck, Death and the Tulip is, understandably harder for kids to love but I really, really love it.
Duck is going to die – we know that because Death has started to hang around – he is anxious and scared but as time goes on he gets used to Death. He wants to understand what will happen after he dies, he’s heard stories but wants to really know – Death can’t help but even so Duck starts to find him quite good company and when the time comes death is graceful, tender and gentle. Death is moved as he says his final Goodbye to Duck – but he straightens himself up, he is just doing his job – “that’s life” after all.
I really like this pragmatic approach – I, personally, found it comforting and it has been carefully interjected with spots of humour. I read the book with my children when there was no other theme of ‘death’ in our lives but I wonder if they might have felt differently about it if we’d read it together when someone we loved had died or was likely to die – maybe a relative or a pet? The book is available to buy from Amazon (UK and US).
Little mole is such a clasic! My kids love two books about death, ”Drop Dead” by Babette Cole and ”All the dear little animals” by Ulf Nilsson and Eva Eriksson. Both have a light tone. My five years old ask questions like ”how will we bury the last person on earth?!”. One book ”Badger parting gifts” by Susan Varley is very touching but… I don’t really want to read through tears.
[…] across this post this morning, and had to stop back by the blog to add this recommendation for Duck, Death, and the Tulip. Like I said, I don’t know much about it, but it looks […]
Wow Mo thanks for writing about this book. I will definitely keep it in mind — I think it’s good to speak about death as part of our lives. I sometimes feel that in modern society, death has no place — we don’t discuss it, we don’t want to see it. Sickness and death takes place in the hospital, away from our houses and our lives. But, it IS a part of our life, and I feel we should teach our children that. Death is scary and sad, but also has beautiful aspects to it.
On a lighter note — I saw Elliesee’s comment, and Ava, who just turned 5, is now talking and asking about death. I’ve seen the same thing happening with Sara when she was five (I wrote a post about it at the time, asking for book recommendations: https://babyccinokids.com/blog/2010/04/07/everybody-dies/ ). It’s interesting that at this age, children take an interest in death, I think! xxx
Eeshk, ok, maybe I will go and look at this one. I read a great article about death on cupofjoe recently that made me think about specific phrases to use when talking to toddlers and small children. My toddler really seems to understand ‘not needing our bodies any more when we die…’
I def think it’s something I want talked about in our house, I was petrified of death growing up, it would keep me awake in my teenage years, I don’t want that angst for my boys!
Thank you x
Maybe it’s a 5 year old thing. My daughter is asking questions that are similar to Ellisesse’s. What if every one dies? What happens to the buildings? How do you get buried? It has been a recurring theme for the last few months. I will definitely have to buy the books recommended here. Thank you.