Friday, April 4, 2008

I Found a Dead Bird: A Kid's Guide to the Cycle of Life and Death by Jan Thornhill


". . . if we're going to explore Death, first we have to answer some questions about Life . . ."

I knew when I read this sentence on the opening pages of Jan Thornhill's I Found a Dead Bird: The Kids' Guide to the Cycle of Life & Death, that this book would be well-written and sensitive to children's feelings and thoughts. Not an easy topic, death. But Thornhill handles it masterfully by asking simple questions like "What does it mean to be alive?", "Why are some lives long?" and "Why are some lives short?", and answering them by first using examples from animals, plants, insects, and even bacteria. She devotes one chapter completely to human beings: "When People Die". Thornhill gently and tactfully addresses subjects such as grieving, funeral customs, and afterlife, with a straightforward manner meant for children, but without a trace of condescension. Adding to the beautifully written text are many photographs from a variety of sources; scientists, professional and amateur photographers. The very last page is the author's account of the hummingbird found on the front cover. She tells what kind of hummingbird it is and how she came to find it. This is an informative book which would certainly bring comfort to a child who may have lost a loved one.

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