Bird is Dead

What happens when someone dies? This delightful book is a very real introduction for a young child to death. It is distinct from other books in this genre as most concentrate on grief (absence, the empty chair) but the focus here is on the process of death as well.

With a stark title, the story is told through the medium of a group of birds whose friend has died. Humorous despite examining the serious topic of death, the simple text allows for feelings to be expressed, feelings which may differ from one bird to another. The narrative moves a child through different stages of grief and the words while blunt, are clear and unambiguous. The sequence of death is followed through right down to burial of the bird and includes arguments between the birds that ground the book in real life. The dead bird had his friends and his enemies, just like people in the real world.

The text allows for discussion between children and adults of what being dead means. It also explores the grief we feel when someone dies. Herma Starreveld’s hues form a muted background palette for highly colourful birds, each decorated in exquisite collage images. One can see the skills of the therapist-turned-artist at work here. The synergy of text, illustration and space renders this book a work of art despite the sad underlying theme.

Book Cover – Bird is Dead
Publication Date
March 2024