The Funeral
The Funeral

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Annotation: A child's first experience of death, at her uncle's funeral, involves love, laughter, and some big questions about life.
Catalog Number: #161545
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 40
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-554-98908-6 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-1350-4
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-554-98908-9 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-1350-4
Dewey: E
Dimensions: 31 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
When Norma accompanies her parents to her great-uncle Frank's funeral, she's happy to have the day off of school and to see her favorite cousin, Ray. There's neither bibliotherapy nor much in the way of a plot here, but the perspective throughout is authentically childlike. James's painterly ink and acrylic illustrations wonderfully convey the moments and feelings that Norma experiences.
Kirkus Reviews
A young girl attends a relative's funeral and experiences familial customs of saying goodbye to a loved one.Norma's great-uncle Frank has passed away. While she practices sad faces in the mirror, the girl also feels happy, since she is missing school and will see her favorite cousin, Ray. These contradictory emotions, along with Norma's innocent questions, perfectly capture a child's point of view as the funeral procession winds its way to church and the sermon takes place. Beautiful moments mingle together—the smell of her mother's purse, dust "dancing in beams of light," the freedom of running outdoors. The illustrations, done in acrylic with ink, pencil, and some collage, skillfully represent the characters both physically and emotionally. As Norma considers what's expected of her and how she really feels, the artist is also on an exploratory journey, attempting different compositions, uses of paint, and mixed media. Simpler paintings evolve to include: a 3-D sculpture with expressionist marks; a large, expansive field where the children play; and evocative, haikulike, panel illustrations of Norma and Ray outside. (Both children have straight, black hair and pale complexions.) The purpose of the day, to celebrate and remember Uncle Frank, is realized as Norma authentically makes this connection.Enveloping and original, James' authorial debut offers an honest exploration of a difficult and delicate subject. Exceptional. (Picture book. 4-8)
Publishers Weekly
In his first outing as author, Canadian artist James (When the Moon Comes) examines the way the funeral of a distant relative feels to a child. Great-uncle Frank was old when he died, and Norma-s mother is sad (she -put a million kleenexes in her purse and checked her makeup-). Norma isn-t sad, however: she-ll get a day off from school and she-ll see her cousin Ray. Yet she understands that the occasion is somber, and she sits through the long church service patiently. James-s mixed-media spreads make the gravity of the occasion a backdrop for Norma-s liveliness. He paints her with her head deep inside her mother-s purse, breathing in -a mix of toothpaste and makeup and sweet warm leather.- After the service, Norma and Ray turn cartwheels; back inside, Norma sees a photo of Uncle Frank that -smiles right at her.- James-s creation isn-t designed to start a discussion about death. It-s more a story about Norma that happens to involve a funeral, and it traces with a big heart the way she makes sense of this puzzling event. Ages 4-7. Agent: Jackie Kaiser, Westwood Creative Artists. (Apr.)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
A young girl attends a relative's funeral and experiences familial customs of saying goodbye to a loved one.Norma's great-uncle Frank has passed away. While she practices sad faces in the mirror, the girl also feels happy, since she is missing school and will see her favorite cousin, Ray. These contradictory emotions, along with Norma's innocent questions, perfectly capture a child's point of view as the funeral procession winds its way to church and the sermon takes place. Beautiful moments mingle together—the smell of her mother's purse, dust "dancing in beams of light," the freedom of running outdoors. The illustrations, done in acrylic with ink, pencil, and some collage, skillfully represent the characters both physically and emotionally. As Norma considers what's expected of her and how she really feels, the artist is also on an exploratory journey, attempting different compositions, uses of paint, and mixed media. Simpler paintings evolve to include: a 3-D sculpture with expressionist marks; a large, expansive field where the children play; and evocative, haikulike, panel illustrations of Norma and Ray outside. (Both children have straight, black hair and pale complexions.) The purpose of the day, to celebrate and remember Uncle Frank, is realized as Norma authentically makes this connection.Enveloping and original, James' authorial debut offers an honest exploration of a difficult and delicate subject. Exceptional. (Picture book. 4-8)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Norma's going to her uncle Frank's funeral, and while her parents are sad, she's sort of happy, since she gets to skip school and hang out with "her FAVORITE cousin, Ray." Over the course of the day, Norma observes the event from a mostly sensory perspective e beloved smell of her mother's purse; the dust motes floating through colorful beams of light in the church; the happiness of cartwheeling barefoot through the grass. While it seems like Norma and Ray don't understand what's going on, it is clear from their questions and reactions that they do: Ray asks Norma, "Is Uncle Frank still a person?" and Norma stops to look wistfully at a photo of Frank before they leave. The thickly painted, pleasantly busy multimedia artwork, incorporating collage and dimensional elements, has a childlike, freewheeling quality that perfectly matches Norma and Ray's guilelessness. It's a pretty accurate depiction of how young children with only a slight understanding of the significance of death experience a funeral, and it's a warm reminder of some of the less somber elements me with family and loved ones, an opportunity to remember good things about a relative, and a chance to experience the everyday treasures of living. Plenty of picture books about death exist, but in this, James uniquely and playfully captures the particularities of a child's perspective.
Word Count: 609
Reading Level: 3.6
Interest Level: 1-4
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.6 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 510118 / grade: Lower Grades

Norma and her parents are going to her great-uncle Frank's funeral, and Norma is more excited than sad. She is looking forward to playing with her favorite cousin, Ray, but when she arrives at the church, she is confronted with rituals and ideas that have never occurred to her before. While not all questions can be answered, when the day is over Norma is certain of one thing -- Uncle Frank would have enjoyed his funeral. This sensitive and life-affirming story will lead young readers to ask their own questions about life, death and how we remember those who have gone before us.


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