Duck, Death and the Tulip

Explaining the concept of death to children can be a daunting and awkward task.  We are afraid of scaring of upsetting them but they are actually a lot more matter of fact and down to earth about these things than we give them credit for.

These days there are many books available to help explain death to children in a relatable and honest way.  ‘Duck, Death and the Tulip’ by Wolf Erlbruch is my absolute favourite.  It’s gentle, open and beautiful.  It embraces the ‘D-word’ instead of using confusing metaphors and shows Death as a warm and friendly skeleton.  Death positive perfection.

It tells the story of a duck who makes friends with Death.  Duck is initially afraid of Death but comes to realise he is not there to scare or upset her.  They spend more time together and create a special bond.  Death answers all Duck’s questions and lays to rest her apprehensions and fears about death.  In the end *SPOILER ALERT* Duck dies.  Death carries her to the river and sends her on her way with this final thought “For a long time he watched her. When she was lost to sight, he was almost moved. But that’s life, thought Death”.  Beautiful

Although this book looks like it’s aimed at children I genuinely feel that all ages can enjoy it and benefit from it.  I am always moved whenever I re-read it.  It’s truly enchanting.

You can get a copy here or from all good book shops.

duck, death and the tulip

Below are some extracts from the book.

Duck, Death and the Tulip

Summer was ending and they went less and less often to the pond. They sat together in the grass, saying little. When a cool wind ruffled her feathers, Duck felt its chill for the first time. “I’m cold,” she said one evening. “Will you warm me a little?”

Duck, Death and the Tulip

Before long, Death decided that he had his limits. “Forgive me,” he said “I really must get away from this damp”. “Are you cold?” Duck asked. “Shall I warm you a little?” Nobody had ever offered to do that for Death.

Duck, Death and the Tulip

Death stroked a few rumpled feathers back into place, then he carried her to the great river. He laid her gently on the water and nudged her on her way.

Duck, Death and the Tulip

For a long time he watched her. When she was lost to sight, he was almost moved. But that’s life, thought Death.

 

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