Luna’s Red Hat by Emmi Smid
Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Length: Short story (36 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 6+
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review by: Hawthorn
It is a beautiful spring day, and Luna is having a picnic in the park with her family, wearing her Mum’s red hat. Luna’s Mum died one year ago and she still finds it difficult to understand why. She feels that it may have been her fault and worries that her Dad might leave her in the same way. Her Dad talks to her to explain what happened and together they think about all the happy memories they have of Mum.
This beautifully-illustrated storybook is designed as a tool to be read with children aged 6+ who have experienced the loss of a loved one by suicide. Suicide always causes shock, not just for the family members but for everyone around them, and children also have to deal with these feelings. The book approaches the subject sensitively and includes a guide for parents and professionals by bereavement expert, Dr Riet Fiddelaers-Jaspers. It will be of interest to anyone working with, or caring for, children bereaved by suicide, including bereavement counsellors, social workers and school staff, as well as parents, carers and other family members.
Luna’s Red Hat is a storybook that is intended for children who are coping with grief and loss.
The story tells of a girl who feels that she can’t be happy because she lost her mother a year ago. Despite the short format, the girl’s conflicting feelings and the father’s attempts to explain to her what happened and that it is okay to miss her mother and feel sad were wonderfully honest. With this, the story emphasizes how honesty is essential in such cases.
Explaining such tragic loss to a child, particularly when a person takes their own life, is difficult, but the story and the guide for parents at the end both suggest that the approach should be gentle but frank. Children have difficulty understanding the concept of death and its permanence, but the role of the grown-ups is to reassure them, to give them the feeling of safety and maintain their trust by being honest.
The wonderful illustrations balance out the dark topic and give the book a special charm.
Luna’s Red Hat is a storybook for children, as well as for their parents. It’s a guide that helps children understand what’s happening, and parents to find a gentle way to explain a difficult situation to their children.