I have long admired Ewa Jozefkowicz’s writing. Her books are wonderful. This story is powerful and emotive while feeling legendary as well. Written with a personal perspective on grief, Ewa is honest and sheds some light on her own loss while in school. She has shared some amazing titles that deal with childhood grief.
The Dragon in the Bookshop is a story about Kon, a twelve-year-old boy who stops speaking after his dad’s death. Things at school are hard, and at home they’re even harder. But they take a turn for the better when Kon meets Maya on the beach he loved to explore with Dad. She doesn’t mind his silence, as it gives her a chance to be heard. Later, when they visit Kon’s dad’s old bookshop before it’s sold, a magical adventure awaits them, as they get whisked away into Konrad’s favourite legend which he used to enjoy with Dad.
Kon’s experience is based on my own, as I lost my dad while in secondary school. At the time, I struggled with the fact that I didn’t know anyone who’d gone through the same experience as me, but books certainly helped. Here are my top recommended reads for children dealing with childhood grief.
A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness
This is a wonderfully moving story about a boy who has recurring dreams ever since his mum started treatment for a terminal illness. There’s a monster in his back garden – a force both frightening and wild. The story is in equal parts touching, funny and devastating.
The Many Worlds of Albie Bright – Christopher Edge
This is a unique and brilliant story about Albie, who wants to figure out where his mum went after she died. His parents are scientists and they usually have all the answers, but this time Albie is on his own. He finds a box, his mum’s computer and a rotting banana, and sends himself through time and space to find her.
When You Trap a Tiger – Tye Keller
This is a moving book about a girl discovering a secret family history when she makes a deal with a magical tiger from her grandmother’s stories. It’s a tale of grief, love, friendship and hope, and it kept me gripped to the very end.
Vicky Angel – Jacqueline Wilson
I’m a huge fan of Jacqueline Wilson, and this story has her trademark ingredients of empathy, friendship and hope. Jade is devastated when her best friend is killed by a car and wonders how she will manage without her. She is initially thrilled when Vicky’s ghost appears to her, but the ‘angel’ is not what she seems…
The Dragon in the Bookshop by Ewa Jozefkowicz (front cover illustration by Katy Riddell) is out on 7th July 2022 and will help promote Grief Encounter (www.griefencounter.org.uk) a wonderful charity that works with children who have lost someone they love.
Grief Encounter have a message for children and young people like Kon. As a charity they work closely with individuals, families, schools and professionals to offer a way through the anxiety, fear and isolation so often caused by the grief of losing someone close.
Grief Encounter provide immediate support with a FREEPHONE Grieftalk helpline 0808 802 0111 open Mon-Fri 9am-9pm, a live chat via their website or support by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.