cover image Cry, Heart, but Never Break

Cry, Heart, but Never Break

Glenn Ringtved, trans. from the Danish by Robert Moulthrop, illus. by Charlotte Pardi. Enchanted Lion (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59270-187-2

In this empathic picture book, first published in Denmark in 2001, Death—a towering, robed figure with a beaklike nose and sorrowful expression—solemnly sits with four children around their grandmother’s kitchen table. “Not wishing to frighten the children, the visitor had left his scythe outside the door,” writes Ringtved, providing a clue as to the figure’s tender nature. And yet, he has come for their grandmother, resting upstairs. The children refill Death’s coffee mug in an attempt to postpone the inevitable; while drinking his coffee, Death tells them an allegorical story to illustrate how, like grief and joy or sorrow and delight, life and death cannot exist without the other. “What would life be worth if there were no death?” he asks. Finally, Death goes upstairs, telling the children the words of the title, which offer comfort in the following years. Pardi creates a cozy, lived-in ambiance in her pencil and watercolor art; Death’s almost grandfatherly persona suggests that there is a time to go gently into that good night. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)