I’m completely stunned: a children book – with a blue sticker on the cover, which means a concept book in our library – that begins with: “Mum died this morning…” As far as I know, children’s stories never deals with death, it’s too touchy. So is this a story of a bad dream? I read on, and no, the little boy’s mum is really gone forever. Within 30 pages, in simple words and subtle illustrations, this is a story of how this little boy dealt with his pain and his anger: “ I shouted that if it was going to be like that, I wouldn’t be her son any more, that she shouldn’t have had a kid if she was going to leave before he was grown up”; and his trying to take care of his dad “who’s been abandoned like this”, who “looked like a flannel, all crumpled and wet”.
Most moving of all is his effort to hold on to his mum‘s memories: “I closed the window so that I could keep breathing Mum’s smell in”; “I plug my ears, cover my eyes and shut my mouth to keep the sound of her voice with me”… He grazed himself while playing in the garden and heard his mum’s voice, so he kept scratching the scab just to hear it again and again…
Then one day Grandma turned up, and opened the window, and pandemonium: “I shout and cry and scream, “No! Don’t open the windows! Mum’s going to disappear for good…” And it’s Grandma who soothed all his pain: “She puts her hand, then my hand, on my heart. “She’s there, in your heart, and she’s not going anywhere.”
It is such a beautiful and very sad story, full of little gems: “I think it hurts him (Dad) to look at me because I have my mum’s eyes.” “He opens his arms to me, I throw myself into them, and my heart beats so hard I can almost hear Mum whispering “Go on, my little man, go on…” “…I see that the scab is gone. It’s turned into a scar without my noticing… The skin is all smooth, all new…”
Would this story soothe a little boy who lost his mum?? I do hope so, although the reasoning and the concept are at adult’s level – but it certainly soothes me, I‘ve lost my mum too.