'Where is Uncle Al' is a beautifully illustrated and written book aimed for children aged four to seven, which discusses death and the many difficult questions that arise from the taboo topic.
Where do we go when we die? How do we talk about it? Six-year-old Lily's uncle dies before she is born, but she wants to get to know him. So she asks each of her family members in turn "Where is Uncle Al?" A picture book to start conversations about death and share beliefs about life.
Eva Hibbs, the author, was inspired by her own experience of grief and loss from losing her father twelve years ago. Death is not an easy topic to talk about- especially due to our inexperience with discussions about grief and loss as a society. Hibbs addresses the subject of death and religious beliefs so eloquently and in a meaningful way. It is straight to the point, yet not stark. Hibbs addresses death in a clear and concise manner, thus making it, without doubt, clear and accessible to young children. Often, when children ask questions about death, these questions are avoided. This book sparks hope within me: it shows that these questions should not be avoided- they shouldn't be tossed to the side and ignored. It is important to normalise the conversation about death and grief since it is an inevitable and natural but painful part of life (as we all know but prefer to ignore).
What makes this book complete are the stunning and ethereal illustrations by illustrator Sarah Harrison. The vibrancy of the illustrations amplifies that glimmering glimpse of hope through death, which permeates this gorgeous book. Ardently, this book proves that death isn't just mere darkness and gloom. Furthermore, it enriches children's understanding of the world and the many different religious beliefs of life after death.
I was astounded by the beauty of this book, both in its writing and illustrations. According to the BBC, Eva Hibbs said publishers told them that "death was off the table", which I found shocking to hear. I believe that Hibbs and Harrison accomplished something amazing with this book and have defied the odds, despite being told that writing about death for a children's book was off-limits. This wonderful book will offer hope and comfort to many children who have suffered a loss in their lives and is a beacon of hope within the midst of grief.
"This thoughtful narrative about grief tells the story of six-year-old Lily as she comes to understand the absence of a family member." - Action for Children
"Stories play an important role in helping children make sense of death. The pictures and words help to feed children's imaginations and can make them feel connected to someone..." - Winston's Wish