Title: The Forever Kid
Author: Elizabeth Mary Cummings
Illustrator: Cheri Hughes
Published: 1st October 2018
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
Genres: Children – 4 to 8 years
Rating: 4 stars
It’s Johnny’s birthday but he is no longer here. His family still gathers and lovingly celebrates him on his birthday.
By continuing Johnny’s favourite party traditions, and sharing special memories, the family feel a sense of
closeness and comfort on this day of remembrance. They will always cherish Johnny, their Forever Kid.
Grief and loss of a loved one, especially of a young one taken too soon, is rarely a topic that crosses our minds. How our little ones deal with such a moving life event is considered carefully by the author of The Forever Kid, Elizabeth Mary Cummings. Cummings opens up the all important conditions, through the vehicle of her gentle picture book, so that conversations about loss can be sparked and experiences shared.
The Forever Kid is a touching story about the all encompassing love one very special family has for Johnny, their beloved son. Johnny’s birthday is an important occasion, it is a time to reflect and celebrate the life of a boy who is no longer able to join in with his birthday celebrations. The family makes sure that Johnny’s spirit and all the things he loved about life are kept alive. Through acts such as cuddling, computer time and cloud watching, each family member finds their own unique way to pay homage to Johnny’s life. As the family unites in their grief and sadness, it is a chance to pay their respects to Johnny’s enduring spirit.
The Forever Kid is a children’s picture book that addresses grief, a topic and an area that I have found is rarely covered in picture books. The Forever Kid is an empowering book for four to eight year old children and it sensitively taps into an area that deserves our attention. Through the expert eyes of experienced children’s book author and primary school teacher Elizabeth Mary Cummings, the reader is taken on an all important journey that legitimises and puts a public face on the process of grief, especially for a child dealing with the loss of a sibling. Emotional and expressive, The Forever Kid is a book that will unite readers of all ages and backgrounds, due to the accessible presentation format of the principal subject matter, loss.
Complimenting the strong narrative voice of assured writer Elizabeth Marry Cummings, is the talented craftsmanship of illustrator Cheri Hughes. The illustrations featured in The Forever Kid are soft, dreamlike and embracing. The style of the illustrations, particularly the use of a watercolour texture, with a gentle choice of colour palate adds so much to the unfolding story. Hughes breathes life into Johnny, his family and the celebrations that work to honour his life, all through her thoughtful illustrations.
What I gained from the experience of reading The Forever Kid was the power this book holds to change our mindset around the grief process. Often I turn to book to help me understand a crisis, or a life event that I cannot fully comprehend. The Forever Kid is a prime example of the transformative power of picture books hold to help us in our daily lives, when we are faced with challenging times. Personally, I loved the touch of using cloud stories as a means to connect with Johnny, the enduring boy, who will always remain the ‘forever-kid’. Although Johnny’s brother is a central narrator of the book, Cummings is also careful to include a range of individual responses to loss and tributes made to Johnny. Cummings also makes us see how important it is to value the support of family networks when working through the process of bereavement. Cummings juxtaposes the serious tone of death and loss with celebration, which is a great way to explore the emotional themes contained in this book.
The Forever Kid is a unique book with a restorative quality, that will provide a sense of semblance and peace to those who have experienced the loss of a loved one. For those who have not been touched by grief in such a close manner, The Forever Kid is still an essential book to have on hand in home library, to turn to when you need the comfort of words to support you through a difficult life event.
The Forever Kid by Elizabeth Mary Cummings and illustrated by Cheri Hughes was published on October 1st 2018 by Big Sky Publishing. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about Just Write For Kids – Books on Tour visit here.
To learn more about the author of The Forever Kid, Elizabeth Mary Cummings visit here.
* I wish to thank Big Sky Publishing/Just Write For Kids – Books On Tour for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Forever Kid, is book #123 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge
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