When I Die, Will I Get Better?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This intensely personal father-and-son collaboration came about after the death of Piet Breebaart's youngest child, Joeri's brother Remi. As the foreword explains, five-and-a-half-year-old Joeri became withdrawn and angry. Six weeks after Remi's death, the father mentioned Joe and Fred Rabbit, the characters they had invented for the tales they had told Remi; hoping to help Joeri in his mourning, Piet persuaded him to create a story in which Joe dies. This picture book, dictated by Breebaart fils and illustrated by Breebaart pere, is the result. Strong on matter-of-fact narrative and short on the superficial advice and saccharine psychobabble that pervade most bibliotherapy, the story features a host of animal characters who behave in very human ways. The ending, which finds Fred and his friends at play in the field where Joe is buried, is both poignant and hopeful, and may well be a real boost to readers struggling with grief. Preface not seen by PW. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Dr. Judy Rowen
Joeri Breebaart was 5 1/2 years old when his little brother died of meningitis. This story is his way of working through his grief; he told the story at bedtime to his father who wrote the words and illustrated it with Joeri's guidance. In the story, Joe Rabbit dies and his brother Fred mourns him, but gradually he learns to laugh and play again. A very helpful book in aiding other children who must deal with loss. Be prepared to cry as you read it - and remember that children need to know that grown-ups cry too.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Fred and Joe are rabbit brothers who live happily in their home at the edge of the wood, until one morning Joe does not get out of bed. At first Doctor Owl thinks he can cure him, but the little rabbit dies. The rest of the story tells how the neighbors help prepare for the burial, how Fred puts his brother's favorite books and toy into the coffin, and promises to play in the field close to the grave every day. After the funeral, Fred wants to be alone and is very angry; but gradually he and his parents, with the loving support of their friends, begin to feel better. Eventually the boy is able to laugh and play again. Straightforward, simply told, and moving, this book does not gloss over the finality of death or the sadness and anger that results, but makes it clear that the bereaved do return to normal life in time. The tone is gentle and honest. The plain, almost childlike, but expressive colored-pencil illustrations are very much in keeping with the mood and purpose of the text.-Patricia Pearl Dole, formerly at First Presbyterian School, Martinsville, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780872263758
  • Publisher: School Specialty Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/1/1993
  • Edition description: 1st American ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 29
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.29 (w) x 8.62 (h) x 0.34 (d)

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