Bigger than a Dream
Written by: Jef Aerts
Illustrated by: Marit Tornqvist
Originally Published by: Levine Querido, Books Netherlands 2013 Translated by David Colmer and published in November 2020 by First Printing.
Ages: 4 – 8 years
Theme: Life, death, questions
Opening Lines: The first time I heard her, I was sitting at the table eating some marzipan. Suddenly there was a rustling in my ear. I tried to wiggle it out with my finger.
Synopsis: from Amazon:- : People fear death (apparently just a tiny bit less than public speaking). We don’t know how to talk about it, especially to children, and we’re afraid to bring it up for fear of making people sadder.
Yet children, especially, have questions, and this incredibly gentle and surprisingly light story is full of both comfort and vividly imagined “answers.” The first one gives the book its title: A boy hears the voice of his sister calling him one day, a sister he’s never met because she died before he was born. The sister in the faded photograph on the wall. So that night he asks his mother what death is like and she tells him, “It’s like dreaming, only bigger.”
That’s lovely, but he still has questions, which it turns out his sister can answer! On a dreamy, carefree adventure they ride their bikes together, (not always on the ground), visiting places that were special to her when she was alive. And she talks to him in the older sister, teasing, straightforward, loving way that is exactly what he needs. (It turns out that death is not the only thing that can be Bigger Than a Dream.)
Much, much more than bibliotherapy, this is a work of art that speaks with honesty and tenderness about one of life’s great mysteries
Why I like this: This is a beautiful moving book about death. Young kids always have questions and the topic of death is another mystery. Marit’s rather dreamy style is ideally suited to such a sensitive subject as a sister’s death. This story is based on Jef’s own life as his sister died before he was born and although he grew up in a house where she was not there, yet she was everywhere. As a child he felt his sister came to visit him and this is what inspired this story. It has beautiful tender moments, lyrical and dreamy. Keep tissues handy.
Resources: author’s website… https://www.jefaerts.com/bigger-than-a-dream.html
Author talks about his book…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpSGsjV3Omc
An interesting chat from illustrator Marit Tornoqvist. In her attic studio in the Netherlands … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQGGwgCDDr8
Illustrator’s beautiful website… http://www.marittornqvist.nl/en/ Check out her prints, postcards and calendars.
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