Goodbye, My Dear Grandma: An Activity Book for Grieving Children
Most kids will lose at least one grandparent during their childhood, and that is exactly what happened to Emma Sondergaard, the author of this extraordinary children's book, Goodbye, My Dear Grandma: An Activity Book for Grieving Children. The author's first-person profile explains how this tender and aesthetically beautiful book came to be written in 2015.
"I am 9 years old and I live with my family in California. I love tennis, swimming, rollerblading, rock climbing, and watercolor painting. When my grandma passed, I wanted to use my paintings to help my brother Noah cope with the loss. I know it hurts to lose someone so I hope my book can help you too."
The book is packed with art and writing activities to help elementary school-aged children identify and work through the grief of losing a beloved grandmother. A helpful note to parents contains a list of supplies to assemble, including crayons, glue, pictures of the deceased, etc.
Especially impressive is how the activities—many of which include writing out lists and filling in the blanks—are geared to help children cope with the common emotional challenges of grief, including sadness and bewilderment. Page 15, for example, asks the bereaved child to identify "things I don't understand" and to then compile a resource list of "who can I talk to about this?"
While the activities are thoughtful and age-appropriate, the lush watercolors of plants, animals and landscapes are the real stars of the book. The skilled paintings rendered in soft, soothing colors dovetail perfectly with the activities. Pages 20 and 21, for example, feature a painting of a panda. The corresponding activity is "lying down with the panda to calm my mind and body."
This book would be a welcome addition to school libraries and to agencies that work with the bereaved. I can envision the concept expanded into a series for children who have lost a parent, sibling, classmate, or pet.
A small criticism is that not all children call their grandmother "Grandma". They may say Abuela, Bubbe, Nana, Mémère, and so on. It would have been helpful to have included a line such as: "I called my grandmother ___________ because her heritage was ___________." I also wondered if the book might have been modified to include the loss of a grandfather.
The binding is strong and the pages lie flat to allow for activities. The cover did not have a chemical smell, a problem we've noticed in this year's contest. The pages are durable enough to withstand glueing, painting, and so on.
We congratulate Emma Sondergaard on her achievement and wish her much future success with her art and writing.
Buy this book on Amazon