Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Benny's Hat, written by Juliet Clare Bell, illustrated by Dave Grey, reviewed by Pippa Goodhart

Image result for benny's hat image juliet clare bell

This is an important book.  It depicts a childs experience of the death of a sibling, and it does so with honesty and kindness.  Its also a very good story, and one which will make you smile, and maybe even laugh, as well as possibly making you cry. 
The story is told in the first person by Lizzy.  Shes talking about her brother Benny who was strong and funny, but who then gets the kind of ill where you have to go to hospital.  Things change as little sister becomes stronger than Benny, and is no longer always able to make him laugh.  But Benny keeps wearing his funny hat, now to cover his bald head.  Lizzie experiences a range of feelings; upset when all the attention seems to be on Benny, anger at the unfairness that he is dying.  And then she does something bad.  She hides Bennys favourite hat, hoping he wont go to the hospice without it, and that will keep him at home.  The plan doesnt work, and Benny dies without his beloved hat, leaving Lizzie with guilt on top of grief.  But family love, and Bennys character, continue after his death, allowing for a new way for the family to work, with Benny very present in their thoughts.  It isnt easy.  There are ups and downs, but the story ends on a positive note, and with the potential to make the story personal to you via a frame in which youre invited to add a picture of somebody you love. 
            Both the text and the pictures in this book are simple, but far from simplistic.  Its a book to be shared and talked about, and could work with children up to even nine or ten.  Highly recommended, especially, of course, for those children who are facing the death of a brother or sister.


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