Often times, adults are caught deciding whether or not to introduce young children to the topic of death and loss. The book Tim’s Goodbye by Steven Salerno explores themes of death, sadness, and how to say goodbye. This book narrates the story of a young girl, Margot, whose pet turtle Tim dies, and how her close friends help her to grieve his death and allow him to pass on from the earth. Margot has four friends that help her obtain all the materials necessary to provide her pet turtle a service: a French Horn for music, a box to serve as a coffin, balloons to carry Tim into the sky and sun, and flowers to send with him in his box.
This children’s book does a great job of illustrating how someone feels after the death of someone close to you, the importance of community and support systems during the stages of grief, and hints at a life after death while maintaining a general position on afterlife. The aspect of time in this book is well written into the story line, as phrases such as “a long time” help the reader understand that the process of losing someone and grieving takes a while and does not happen overnight. The writing style of the book does a well job at creating a neutral tone where the reader receives hints of sadness throughout, but is not scared away by strong language or visuals.
Throughout the book, the same color palette is used with overall yellow hues and hints of blue and white. The images are not distracting at all, and do not take away from the content of the book. The beginning third of the book only uses yellow hues, and it isn’t until Margot’s friend Vincent comes with the blue balloons that the color is introduced to the book. And little by little, more blue is introduced into the illustrations, especially when Roger and Vincent, two of Margot’s friends, bring a blue box to put Tim into. When Tim is released into the sky, a beautiful blue spread follows where the main color is now blue with hints of yellow showing Tim in a new place.
Overall, this book is great for young readers as the text is not too complicated to read. This book should not scare adults from reading it to the children because of the gentleness it carries while developing the plot and development of characters in the story. A great read, and an even better book to engage with the topic of loss and death!