Michael Rosen's Sad Book


A man tells about all the emotions that accompany his sadness over the death of his son, and how he tries to cope.
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A man tells about all the emotions that accompany his sadness over the death of his son, and how he tries to cope.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The candor and personal nature of Rosen's heartrending exploration of sadness, rooted in the death of his son Eddie, are evident from the opening page. The caption under a sunny, smiling portrait reveals, "This is me being sad. Maybe you think I'm happy in this picture. Really I'm sad but pretending I'm happy." A second, gloomy portrait appears as the narrator notes that what makes him most sad is thinking about Eddie. The palette of Blake's (Clown) versatile, evocative pen-and-watercolor art brightens again as an octet of cheerful scenes in window-like panels depict snapshots from Eddie's life. Yet in the accompanying text, the narrator admits that thinking of Eddie's death makes him "really angry" ("How dare he go and die like that? How dare he make me sad"); the eighth panel is empty. This contrast between art and text amplifies the bittersweet experience of losing someone dear; the joy they brought in life, and the pain that comes from the hole they have left behind. The author shares the ways he deals with his sadness: he finds someone to talk to; does "crazy" things like shouting in the shower; tells himself, "everyone has sad stuff"; tries to do one thing daily he can be proud of-and he finds solace in his memories of Eddie. In the book's poignant visual denouement, Blake's buoyant renditions of candlelit birthday celebrations give way to a final wordless spread, in which the narrator is seen, pen in hand, gazing at a sole burning candle and a framed picture. Rosen's poetic revelation of his conflicting emotions and coping strategies will resonate with-and help-anyone mourning a loss or dealing with an indefinable sadness. All ages. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Blake prepares us for Rosen's words of grief on the death of his son Eddie with his initial illustration. On the front of the jacket, done in tones of gray and black, a man is walking alone past a turned-over trash can. As Rosen then expresses his anger, Blake depicts a series of square vignettes in bright colors, memories of happy times, but the last square is blank; Eddie is gone. As Rosen describes the ways he tries to cope, anyone of any age who has felt a deep loss can empathize. He does some crazy things, some bad things. But every day Rosen tries to do something to be proud of, and something for pleasure. He writes a poem about sadness that can break your heart. But finally he recalls happy memories; there is hope at the end in the single candle burning in the dark. With his usual humorous scratchy pen lines and washy watercolors, Blake clearly communicates the different emotional states. The cheerful colored bits of memory of lost joys contrast with the gray scenes of despair. Far from a typical book for children, this moving testament could help a child or an adult deal with grief, but it is certainly not for everyone. 2005 (orig. 2004), Candlewick Press, Ages 6 up.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 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 Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
"Where is sad? Sad is anywhere. It comes along and finds you. When is sad? Sad is any time. It comes along and finds you." Impelled by the sudden death of his teenage son, Rosen offers a personal meditation on living with loss, to which Blake's accompanying watercolors give poignant visual dimension. Addressing readers in simple, unaffected language, the author describes ups and downs; how he sometimes wants to share his feelings, but other times wants be alone; the small acts that make him feel worse or better; how memory can hurt or help. His changeable inner landscape is reflected in the scribbly, emotionally exact art, as subdued color alternates with washes of gray, facial expressions of the author and those around him change-and other signs, from body language to outdoor scenes and the weather itself-evoke each moment's mood. Rosen offers no easy solutions here-but he and Blake close with the image of a candle shedding a small, hopeful light. Readers burdened by similar loss will be touched by the honesty and perception here. (Picture book. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763641047
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 8/26/2008
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 3 months - 18 years
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Rosen is an award-winning author and anthologist of books for young readers, including SHAKESPEARE'S ROMEO AND JULIET, illustrated by Jane Ray, and SHAKESPEARE: HIS WORK AND HIS WORLD, illustrated by Robert Ingpen, which was a SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL Best Book of the Year and one of New York Public Library's 100 Best Children's Books of the Year. In 1997 he received the Eleanor Farjeon Award for service to children's literature. Michael Rosen lives in London.

Quentin Blake has illustrated more than 250 books by many writers, notably John Yeoman, Russell Hoban, Joan Aiken, Michael Rosen, and, most famously, Roald Dahl. He is also well known for his own picture books, such as CLOWN and ZAGAZOO. Quentin Blake was a tutor at the Royal College of Art from 1965 to 1988, and for eight of those years was head of the Illustration Department. In 1999 he was appointed the first British Children's Laureate, and in 2002 the Quentin Blake Europe School in Berlin was named for him. He is also a recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration. Quentin Blake lives in London.

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