Silence or celebration?

25th May 2001 at 01:00
Death and how we deal with it is ably tackled in two quite different books. The Shape by Dianne Bates (Allen amp; Unwin pound;4.99) describes the distress and confusion of Julia, a young girl whose baby sister has died. Her distress is made more acute by the fact that her parents, though clearly grieving, never talk about the baby.

Bates's story, inspired by the death of her own daughter, aged two, is a lyrical, deeply emotional narrative that should ideally be shared by child and adult. Saying Goodbye: ASpecial Farewell to Mama Nkwelle, by Ifeoma Onyefulu (Frances Lincoln pound;10.99), is an uplifting tribute to a long life. Unlike The Shape, which deals with the consequences of a life and death not talked about, Saying Goodbye uses rich, colourful, exuberant photographs and text to recount how a small Igbo community in Nigeria pays homage to a loved one, honouring the life that has gone with dancing and singing and adornment.

A positive approach and gentle introduction to a difficult subject.

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