A Better Place
By Alyson Marsh
Rated: 4 ****
I first of all I would like to say thank you to Alyson Marsh who gifted me a copy for review of this book that, for young people (and perhaps even some adults may find it useful, even though the layout, the language and activities is very much geared for young people) provides comfort during times of grief and could help people to talk about their feelings and their memories. It is true to say that death is inevitable, sometimes it is natural causes and sometimes it is not, but it is a universal truth that we all live and we all die and yet death, grief, how to deal with it, is, unusually, for something that isn’t uncommon and yet is rarely talked about. This book brings hope, comfort and can really aid young people in a positive, healthy manner in coping with their personal grief.
I have my review and then at the bottom a little blurb and bit about the author.
I came across the children’s book – A Better Place by Alyson Marsh on Twitter and immediately wanted to review it because at all times, especially now, children and teenagers may need comforting and may need something extra to help them through grief. This book does that. It is a book with spaces to write and draw on and you can express yourself, or of course if you find it in a library, or want to be able to use those pages over and over again, they are easy to replicate on some blank paper. It comes with a meaningful story that I think children and teenagers will find useful as well, whether they are looking at this book themselves or with an adult. This isn’t a heavy book at all, it oozes with comfort and brings with it a positivity and a sense that things will be okay again. It’s a beautiful book full of colour and hope and that can truly help young people through grief. Each page has only a few sentences on it. It’s one that provokes discussion and thoughts that can help.
Meet Thora, she lost her daddy at sea. From the first page, realistic emotions she felt are written about, such as lost, confusion, helplessness and wondering what she can do. Then there’s some positivity in the “Better Place”. There’s pages of memories of the things that her daddy used to love to do, where he used to love to be. It’s joyfulness through the pain and sadness of grief. It shows children and teens of all ages that even though times can be tough, it’s okay to feel sad and it’s okay to smile as you remember happier times.
There are a few pages that encourage you to draw your loved one who you have lost and your memories of them. There is also a lined page where children can write about the good times with your loved one. You are also encouraged by the end of the book to stick a photo of your lost loved one. Readers will also notice a robin on each page. It is used effectively as a symbol of comfort.
I like that there are big, bright, bold pictures and few words on each page as well as small activities young people can do, either by themselves or with someone.
My only quibble is the text font that is chosen, of all the writing is joined up, that I find a bit baffling as it makes, what is otherwise such an accessible book, perhaps a little more challenging to read yourself if you aren’t a confident reader or have just learnt how to read. So, confident readers could read it, for younger readers, they will need assistance. It is however healthy to read a book together, especially this book. Otherwise, this is a book that I do recommend because I’ve been through a lot of grief in my time (and I’m still relatively young), and from personal experience, I can say that remembering good memories and doing something positive in memory of them definitely help with the moving on process and is healthy and I believe that this book can help as part of this process and allows young people to see this and shows them what they can do.
The Blurb and About The Author
A Better Place is dedicated to Michael Wild Snr.
13 years ago Alyson Marsh lost her dear father and began to imagine where he could be and what the place that he had passed on to could be like. After over 20 years of teaching Art in secondary school and two daughters later, she decided to put her thoughts down on paper as she wanted the book to have a very personal feel to it. A Better Place was created to support anyone who has lost someone special in their lives.
Readers can discover more about the author inside the book.