Children's Picture Book / Help / Grief / Christian
Synopsis (publisher): A seven-year-old girl records the sudden death of her beloved older brother by writing her personal feelings in her diary. In her own innocent way, she tells about being able to see him when no one else can. She embraces this ability and is not afraid.
Throughout this tender book, the little girl relates her experiences in feeling her brother’s nearness, even when she cannot see him anymore. In her own trusting way, she knows that everything will be all right, and through her honest feelings, she is able to help her parents cope with their loss. She also learns about angels and knows that her brother is safe.
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HALL WAYS REVIEW: The topics of death and grief are not typically covered in children's books, and there is definitely a need. Author Suzanne Gene Courtney has created a beautifully illustrated story and its strength is in its simplicity. Each page is a lined diary entry that contains short sentences in neatly printed text and is accompanied by bright colored-pencil drawings. The vocabulary, complexity of the sentences, and style of the illustrations are perfect for kids ages six to eight.
Adults who are choosing this book for a grieving child need to be aware of the approach taken by the author. In Dear Diary, it is shown that a child can find comfort in the belief that there are angels and an after-life in Heaven for those who have died. However, it also goes a step further and shows that our dead loved ones can still visit and interact with the living. The sentiment is wonderful -- and if it does happen for anyone, I am sure it would be most comforting. The concern is that some children might read this book and expect the interaction with the deceased to be the norm and be even more sad if it doesn't happen for them. As such, I'd recommend an adult and child read the book together and discuss.
Dear Diary is tender and heartfelt. Though the topic is sad, it shows the child's progression into acceptance of her brother's death and knowledge that his love will always remain within her.
BUY LINKSSuzanne Gene (Davis) Courtney comes from a family of teachers. She has taught several subjects and grade levels over a span of thirty years. Retiring in 2011, she moved to Austin, TX, in 2015 to be closer to her children and grandchildren and continue her writing aspirations.
Suzanne has three children, Laura, Gregg, and Daniel. Daniel passed away unexpectedly in 1997 in Hawaii, where he was born. Devastated, she began to write. At first, she wrote poems of angst and darkness, then while healing, poems of understanding and hope surfaced.
To date, she has authored five books, with another due later this year. Four of the six books deal with death and grief with words of support to help the bereaved. Being a former elementary teacher, she has worked with many children experiencing loss.
Two of her books, incorporate her experiences while traveling and are meant for pure reading enjoyment. Book awards to date are: Indie Excellence Award (Finalist), Character Building Counts Award (Silver), Great Southwest Book Festival (Honorable Mention), and Pacific Rim Book Festival (Honorable Mention).
Book signings at various sites around Texas so far include: the Author Extravaganza in Llano, and the Texas Book Festival in Austin. She will be presenting her books for the classroom in several schools in the area soon.
Suzanne is a member of the following organizations: SCBWI Austin, The Writers League of TX, Texas Authors Association, Alpha Xi Delta Alumni, and Reiki Master Teacher.
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