The Books

All the Dear Little Animals

by Ulf Nilsson
Illustrated by Eva Eriksson

One Potato Review

“Oh, here’s something,” says Esther, probably a stand-in for her fearless Swedish creators. “Something sad and tragic.” The object is a dead bumblebee, and that about captures the tone of things here: Esther truly means it, but she’s determined to put the encounter to good use. Three children start a funeral service (really) going from that bee, which they bury with a cross and a heartfelt poem, to a mouse, a rooster, a hedgehog, a hare – the eulogies growing surer while the questions persist. The dust jacket calls this “offbeat,” but that is probably only a coded reference to the humor, which here seems such a natural companion to bereavement you have to wonder if maybe everything else isn’t offbeat. “If Harold gets better, we’ll dig him up again. That’s what we’ll do, tra la lu,” says Esther’s anxious little brother, Puttie, about that maybe-sleeping hedgehog. You would be tempted to call this book a great and unique accomplishment if it did not seem so effortless.

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