The Joy of Empathy

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Review of 'Michael Rosen's Sad Book', Michael Rosen and Quentin Blake, Walker £10.99

What I like best about this book are the pictures. I've always liked Quentin Blake's pictures because you can know the story by looking at them.

The first picture (of Michael Rosen smiling) is my favourite because it's really accurate yet there's not much there. And with the words the first page is very truthful because it says that really he's sad but he puts on a happy face, just to try and make other people not feel sad... and I'm like that sometimes.

When I read the book one of the first things that came to my mind was that not many books talk about sad things. They talk about happy things... unless you want to count Lemony Snicket's books. It was very brave of Michael to write this book because it must have been hard, and also hard to let everyone who reads this book know about his son Eddie and that he died.

There is one page that brings me back to Quentin Blake. There is a series of eight pictures of Eddie growing up, and the second last picture shows Eddie when he was about 18. The next picture is blank white. I like this because it's very hard to draw death.

The book has one funny joke in it, and it's not all sad. The funny four sentences are, 'Sometimes because I'm sad I do bad things. I can't tell you what they are. They're too bad. And it's not fair on the cat.'

Kate Fermont, aged 10


It's such a joy to share a book like this with a youngster. There's no clutter in it - just succinct sentences and perfectly matched drawings that get to the point without fuss or pretension.

Here's an example: 'I loved him very, very much but he died anyway.' Could a sentence better express our sense of injustice and anger when people we love die, despite our love, and when monstrous people live on?

Every family should have access to this book not just because we all feel sad sometimes, and not just because we all know people who are sad, but because, quite simply, it's a wonderful work of art.

Clare Fermont, aged 48