Friday, September 23, 2016

Cry, Heart, But Never Break by Glenn Ringtved

Cry, Heart, But Never Break by Glenn Ringtved, illustrated by Charlotte Pardi, translated from Danish by Robert Moulthrop
Enchanted Lion Books

Rating: 5 stars

A picture book about death?

That's not something you see everyday. But this exceptional, unique book by Glenn Ringtved is worth noting for the sad moment your child needs to say good-bye to a loved one in his or her life. There is magic within these pages, because the delivery of this message could easily have gone wrong had it not gone perfectly right.

Here's the story:

"In the far north" (love that this could take place anywhere), a beloved grandmother and her four grandchildren lived together for many years. Now, they had a visitor. The four children knew the visitor was Death. ("Not wanting to frighten the children, the visitor had left his scythe outside the door.")

The four knew about Death. They understood he had come for their grandmother, who lay ill in her bedroom. They tried to trick him into leaving without her, but Death sat patiently and quietly at the table while the children poured him cup after cup of coffee. Finally, Death "placed his bony hand over his cup to signal 'No more.'"

And here's where the tale goes from interesting to beautiful...

Death wanted the children to understand why he'd come, and so he said, "I would like to tell you a story." He told the children a story of two brothers named Sorrow and Grief who moved about in their gloomy lives until they came across two sisters named Joy and Delight, whose moods were always bright and sunny. Soon, Sorrow and Delight fell in love with each other, and Grief and Joy did the same. The four lived in their two houses on a hill until they were all old and gray, then they died on the same day because they could not live without each other.
Death said quietly, "Cry, Heart, but never break.
Let your tears of grief and sadness help begin new life."

"'It is the same with life and death,' Death said, 'What would life by worth if there were no death? Who would enjoy the sun if it never rained? Who would yearn for day if there were no night?'"

After one final good-bye, Death took the children's grandmother. And while their hearts will full of sorrow and grief, those same hearts did not break because they could remember the joy and delight of her life.

This was such a surprising, moving, beautiful book. Hopefully you will not need it in your life anytime soon, but...when Death inevitably and necessarily comes, perhaps it is a good one to read with your children.

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