This unspeakably sad picture book
tells the story of a young girl Sara and her best friend Rune. They often play by the local lake together and
one day they make a plan to make a fish shop together; he will catch the fish
and she will build the shop. Before
Sara goes to collect sticks, they hug and Rune kisses her on the cheek. When
she returns to the lake, she finds her friend lying face down in the
water. She runs for her mother, and her
grandfather goes to the lake. Sara
cries in the arms of her grandmother.
Adults explain to her that Rune is dead, but Sara finds it hard to
understand that she will never see him again.
She could still picture his face clearly in her mind. Several days later she attends the funeral
and sees many of the adults crying. She
wonders what would happen if Rune woke up in his coffin and wanted to get
out. She worries that he will be cold
during the winder months. When at last
the snow starts to melt, she asks her mother if Rune is still there, and her
mother explains that Runes body is slowly turning into earth. Even after all those months, Sara feels the
loss of her friend keenly. The book
ends with the Spring, when Sara goes to Runes grave and plants flowers.
Goodbye Rune is beautifully
illustrated with pictures showing the terrible sadness in Saras eyes as she
wonders what has happened to Rune, and her feelings of loss when she thinks of
Rune. The adults in the story do not
try to comfort Sara with religious ideas of Rune now living in heaven, but
instead kindly but directly explain to Sara that Rune is gone. The story makes clear how hard it is for
Sara to accept Runes death and how her imagination can give her frightening
images of Rune being conscious in his coffin; it shows that such fears are
natural and are not a sign of stupidity.
Similarly, the story shows how her Saras mourning may last a long time,
and it does so in an accepting manner, with no hint that Sara is being silly or
self-indulgent. The sudden death of
children is hard for anyone to come to terms with, yet many people suffer such
a loss. This book may help young
children to understand a little better what is happening should they experience
such a loss.
© 2002 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.
Christian Perring, Ph.D.,
is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is
editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on
philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested in exploring
how philosophers can play a greater role in public life, and he is keen to help
foster communication between philosophers, mental health professionals, and the
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