Tuesday 3 September 2019

The Funeral

The Funeral by Matt Jones (Affirm Press) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 97819925870404

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Despite its title and subject matter, The Funeral is a joyful book. It begins with a small girl, Norma, practising her sad face in the mirror as her Uncle Frank has died and she’s to attend his funeral. She’s excited about this as it means a day off school and she’ll meet up with her favourite cousin, Ray. In the car on the way to the church, she amuses herself opening and closing the funeral car window. She and Ray engage in the church though it’s boring with ‘all that talk about God and souls, and not very much talk about Uncle Frank’.

‘Is Uncle Frank still a person?’ asks Ray but his question is never answered. Post-funeral, the two cousins enjoy themselves. First there are refreshments and pictures of the deceased. ‘Norma thought of him in the coffin, under the flowers.’

Outdoors the two make use of the vast green countryside where they tumble, and run, explore a graveyard and find a little pond. On the way home, Norma says ‘I think Uncle Frank would have liked his funeral.’

Thus, despite there being a funeral, there’s nothing sad or morbid in the book. Death is something that obviously Norma and Ray have little or no concept of. The book’s illustrations are colourful, the text never brooding on death, or even the funeral.

This book would be ideal for an adult to share with a child, especially one who has lost a loved one as it would allow for a discussion about death and dying and post-death. In the illustrations, some full page, some in cartoon-like strips, there are bright colours and patterns – they are simply lovely!

The Funeral is highly recommended for children aged 4 to 8.

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