I will be honest that this is not a book that I would ever want to have to put into the hands of a child, but sadly it is a book that is necessary, and in the light of recent events in the media, more so than ever we see the value in supporting children’s mental health. This is Luna’s Red Hat, an illustrated storybook to help children cope with loss and suicide, written and illustrated by Emma Smid and published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
It is a beautiful spring day and Luna is wearing her Mum’s red hat. One year ago, Luna’s Mum died and Luna struggles to understand why. She experiences anger, fear and grief, a jumble of confusing emotions. Luna’s Dad opens discussions, explains to Luna and eventually celebrated good memories of her Mum to help Luna come to terms with her loss.
This storybook is designed to be read to children aged 6+ who have experienced the loss of a loved one through suicide. It is beautifully and sensitively executed and fills a gap in educational and emotional storytelling so utterly perfectly. This book addresses those frightening emotions that children will experience as a result of this kind of loss, and also helps children to understand depression and invisible illnesses.
Emma’s writing in this is clear, concise and perfectly pitched to suit all ages. There’s no confusion or complication to the storytelling, it has been carefully managed to address all the relevant issues in a way children will relate to and answers all those questions they will be thinking and more. Alongside the text are gorgeous soft and characterful illustrations that reinforce the explanations with clarity and beauty.
At the rear of the book is a guide for parents and carers written by Dr Riet Fiddelaers-Jaspers a bereavement specialist. It explains how children experience and understand grief and loss, broken down by age group, along with advice and suggestions on how to discuss this with children. It’s a vital element to this book and is incredibly worthwhile reading.
I would never want to have to use a book like this one, but it’s crucial that it exists to support not only those children in this situation, but their parents and carers. Books like this one are a vital part of the support systems needed to process grief and loss, and Luna’s Red Hat is a first rate example.
Luna’s Red Hat is available now from all good book shops and libraries.
Thank you to Sheffield Libraries, School’s Library Service for recommending and loaning this book to me and thank you for reading this Book Monster review.