Fred and Red Say Goodbye

Austin Schlichtman. CreateSpace, $12.99 paper (32p) ISBN 978-1-5194-7852-8
In a lightly allegorical story about grief, a penguin named Fred cherishes his balloon friend, Red, but Red gingerly explains that he is very sick and that “Someday I won’t be here anymore.” Fred’s subsequent emotions mirror the stages of grief. When Fred learns that “a band-aid and a kiss” won’t help, he questions whether it’s his fault (“Are you leaving because I hit you with that snowball the other day?”) then reacts with anger. After bargaining (“What if I shovel the snow? Do you still have to go?”), Fred begins to accept that while his friend must depart, memories of Red remain. Newcomer Schlichtman’s digital artwork creates a spare polar environment with snowy mountain peaks set against a dark blue sky; Fred is created from an assemblage of ovals, and drop shadows provide a subtle three-dimensionality. Despite occasional typographical errors and somewhat robotic dialogue, Schlictman’s story offers accessible ideas for readers dealing with the confusing emotions that accompany loss. Opening pages, written in a child’s voice, guide parents through children’s perspectives on loss across four age ranges. Ages 4–8. (BookLife)
Reviewed on: 03/14/2016
Genre: Children's
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