The immortal jellyfish by Sang Miao
Flying Eye Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781911171799. 40pp., hbk.
Grandpa is explaining about the immortal jellyfish to his grandson, a creature that begins its life again when it is about to die. When the boy asks his grandfather if humans are immortal, he is told that there are other ways humans can live on but sadly the old man dies before he can explain. While the boy is devastated, one night his grandpa appears in a dream and takes him on a journey to the Life Transfer City where those that have died can choose a new identity. But before he discovers his grandfather's choice he is taken back to the real world on the back of a beautiful white bird . . . Will he ever recognise his grandfather again?
At first glance, this seems a rather morbid book with its dark palette, but it really is a most beautiful way to help young children deal with the passing of a loved one as sadly, so many have to. Helping them understand that those who die live on in our memories and thoughts, the things we see, do and smell or taste, even when they are no longer physically here is a way that we can help with the grieving process, particularly if there is no religious belief of an afterlife. It offers a way for the bereaved child to think about those memories and what their loved one might choose to be, as well as being able to share those thoughts rather than not talk at all, which is so often the case. Grown-ups often want to protect little ones by not talking, but often that's just what the child needs to do.
Sensitive and heart-warming, but not sickly-sentimental, this is something special for one of the most difficult parts of growing up.