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Tag Archives: Micheal Rosen

In Praise of Micheal Rosen’s Sad Book

Micheal Rosen & Quentin Blake (illus.) Micheal Rosen's Sad Book

“This is me being sad. Maybe you think I’m being happy in this picture. Really I’m being sad but pretending to be happy. I’m doing that because I think people won’t like me if I look sad”.
So begins Micheal Rosen’s Sad Book. The words sit beneath a grinning portrait of Rosen, wide-eyed and toothy. It is a feeling familiar to anyone who has suffered depression. It is a feeling familiar to most people who haven’t.

Rosen’s son Eddie died of meningitis in 1999. He was just eighteen years old.

Who is sad?

Sad is everyone.

It comes along and finds you.

Micheal Rosen’s Sad Book

And so Rosen is sad. “Sometimes sad is very big. It’s everywhere. All over me”. The economy of prose imbues the words with such heart, such empathetic power that my fingertips tingle. Depression is a king-size duvet on a rollaway bed. Oversized and Heavy. Oppressive. Sometimes even comforting. Rosen speaks of feeling angry, of the ways he tries to cope, of wanting to talk about it and of not wanting to talk about it. Of being sad and not knowing why. Of the crazy things that we do when we’re sad.

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When someone you love is dying

I cannot imagine having to explain to a child that someone they love is going to die. The questions must seem unending – where are they going? Can I still talk to them? What does ‘dead’ mean? And then there’s the most difficult question of all: why?

Younger children may have problems understanding the finality of death. Older children may find it difficult to express what they’re feeling, or have trouble dealing with the unfairness of the thing. At a time when the adults in their lives may also be struggling with emotional issues and/or be busy with end-of-life paperwork and arrangements, books can lend a hand with answering some of those questions as well as offering comfort.

Parents, carers and educators all have to make a decision as to how they’re going to deal with these questions. There are philosophical and religious considerations which adults may or may not want to introduce to youngsters, each with a set of implications that can confuse as much as comfort.

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