Duck, Death and the Tulip


We recommend this…

for a child who is asking questions or expressing fears about mortality and death, or if you need to broach the topic and don’t know how to begin.

A quick summary

Stories provide a safe way for children (and adults) to explore big questions and difficult feelings – and this one deals with perhaps the biggest and most difficult of all. Unusually, possibly uniquely among picture books, it has a sad ending, which we think is courageous and powerful. Sadness can be hard to face, and this book could help adults as much as children on this. It’s often adults who find this book challenging, rather than children. However, it may be best to save it for when a child starts asking questions about mortality and death – that indicates they are ready to read it.


Our full review

Duck, Death and the Tulip is an unflinching and extraordinary picture book about mortality, in which Duck meets Death and finds a way to make friends with him before she dies. The book deals with this largest of all topics in plain but gentle words, and unsentimental but elegant illustrations. It comes from the old fairy-tale tradition of weaving all aspects of life into children’s stories, including the frightening and the sad – not holding back the tough stuff.

Almost uniquely among picture books for this age group, the ending is sad. It is peaceful, and fitting, but does not seek to avoid the sadness. We think this is its great strength. Many people are afraid to feel sadness, and perhaps even more cannot bear to allow a child to be sad, but children need adults to hear their difficult feelings, and not to be afraid.

“It’s hard to describe how this extraordinarily tender book manages to be both heartbreaking and comforting, but it does.” (Sophie Blackall for The New York Times Book Review)

“The most extraordinary picture book I’ve seen in many a year” (Patrick Ness)

“I can’t think of another book that tackles so huge a subject with such simple, heartbreaking eloquence” (Meg Rosoff)

Additional information

Format Paperback
Weight 226 g
Dimensions 242 × 297 × 5 mm
Book Author

ISBN 9781877467172


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