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  • Writer's picturethesepreciouslittlepeople

ANOTHER children’s book about baby loss?

Updated: Jul 3, 2022

The short answer: Yes. And a much-needed one.

For as long as I can remember I have loved books, and the worlds and avenues of thoughts they can open up - for children and adults alike. Most books I’m happy to pick up, read, absorb their wisdom or be inspired by their content, and move on from. My local library has been perfect to borrow from and charity shops near me have been great to donate to. But since having children I’ve immersed myself once again in that frame of mind you enjoy as a youngster. You know nothing about so many things. So much is new. Repetition is how you learn. Questions are how you explore. And pictures in books, well, they can just be everything. And so began my search for beautiful, interesting and meaningful children’s books to fill my home with.

When your baby dies, in my experience, it doesn’t make you any less a lover of children’s books. Those books you’d started to rediscover whilst you were pregnant take on a new poignancy: I know I will never get to share my childhood favourites with my daughter Esme. New ones that I’d delighted on discovering will never have her chubby little fingers grasping at them. I’ll never see what would no doubt have been her beautiful eyes widen in amazement at the breathtaking illustrations in the books we enjoyed together. Those, and so many other missed opportunities, bring fresh pain to my already-aching heart on a daily basis.

But, back to this book and its purpose.

When Esme died, I searched for something that would help me explain what had happened to her to the other children in our lives. I felt awful that our horrible tragedy was going to bring confusion or sadness to my nephews, niece and young cousin; there was no escaping breaking the news to them that the baby they had been looking forward to meeting had died.

Yet I couldn’t find one.

There were books about baby loss, yes. But describing my baby as having turned into a dragonfly, or a star, or her being in heaven now didn’t sit right with me. I worried the analogies would be lost on them, would be confusing, or would not fit with their family's beliefs. I needed clear-cut no-nonsense language that didn't try and soften the blow with euphemism or platitudes. I was frustrated that through the pictures or text the implication was that my baby was now an angel, or had 'gone to a better place' because they were anything less than perfect... none of that quite clicked with me. Even if the text worked, the pictures let the book down (no offence to the illustrators, but I was looking for images that were befitting the seriousness and importance of the subject matter; cartoon-like drawings were not helping set the mood right or convey the message that was trying to come across in the text in my opinion). The illustrations might have occasionally been more in line with what I was after but then the text didn’t suit our situation, and the thought of having to stumble around to improvise and tweak them them whilst reading in that time of emotional turmoil didn’t appeal.

So here's where the idea for These Precious Little People was born. I have tried to write a text that flows well so that adults reading it with their children can follow the rhythm present on the pages and 'get through it' (especially on a first reading, which can be both nerve-wracking and upsetting when you're grieving and worrying about how children you are reading it with will be coming to terms with their own grief), but equally, time can be taken to pause and linger over the stunningly beautiful images if you like (and there's plenty of gorgeous little details throughout the book to seek out with children who will enjoy finding them). If reading it with a very young child, just looking at the pictures and skipping the detail within the text might be what helps them absorb the information until they are a bit older to understand all the text. Even older children and adults can appreciate the breathtaking artwork and draw comfort from the words within.

It was written and illustrated to have not only a wide appeal but also a timeless feel. I didn't want any families reading it to feel like they were excluded by either the pictures or the text, or for it to feel or look dated within a few years. So often I would be looking at a book and feel slightly annoyed that the families depicted looked nothing like ours, or reading the words and thinking, "Ah, but that's not what happened to our baby", and think how I'd have to change them if reading them to a child I knew so as not to confuse them when we had explained what had happened to Esme as being different.

This book won't be perfect for everyone - I don't think it's possible to create a truly 'one size fits all' book for a subject matter so emotive and when everyone's experiences and grief can be so different - but I have come across enough fellow bereaved families in my time since joining this 'club' to know that plenty of others have been looking for a resource just like this one.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on books about baby loss that you already own or have searched for in the past. I'm always on the lookout for new ones and hope that These Precious Little People will be a welcome addition to the genre.



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