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~~~~Author, illustrator and publisher~~~~
Badger's Parting Gifts, is Susan Varley's first book by Collins Picture Lions. She wrote and illustrated this touching story in 1984 for which she won the Mother Goose Award as "the most exciting newcomer to British children's book illustration". Sadly she has not written any children's books since but has continued to illustrate for other authors such as Jeanne Willis; The Monster Bed is another of my favourites. Susan Varley was born in 1961 in Blackpool and studied to be an illustrator. Animals seem to be a theme in her illustrations and are the main part of this story.
This is a beautiful story about death and preparing for death but is also about friendships and how friends can help each other. Badger, the main character in this paperback book, dies leaving his friends with beautiful memories of how he helped them through his life. The story tells of how each of the woodland animals was especially touched by the reliable and dependable Badger. It tells of how his parting gifts, thier memories, help them to overcome his death and remeber him for the great friend he was This book is beautifully illustrated and I feel that the author has described death as if were a journey and left me feeling that Badger got all that he had wished for on his parting. He was able to run and he felt free, I especially loved the sentence where he was described as falling out of his body, it gives a feeling of floating and of freedom, something children may relate to.
I have read this book to my various classes on several occasions following the death of pets and family members, as well as to my own children. It was especially helpful when my own children's great-grandmother died while they were both young. I really feel this book helps children to understand death and makes it feel less final than it really is. My only issue with the story is that I feel that some reference to heaven might have been appropriate to enable children to make those links.
Available from Amazon new for around £4.50 and used from just 1p