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.
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