4 out of 4 stars
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Death is a tough subject to talk about, even for adults. How do we have such a difficult conversation with kids? Stephanie L. Robinson takes up the challenge in her book, Are There Cheeseburgers in Heaven? This short, rhyming picture book paints a gentle and comforting picture of what might happen after death. It is probably best suited to children under ten years old.
This book tells the story of a little boy named Josh who asks his mother a lot of questions about heaven. “Do they have jump ropes, yoyos, and toys that won’t break?” he asks. “Will I spend summer days on a boat in the lake?” Their conversation is told in rhymed verse, and every line flows smoothly and without any stumbles. The story definitely lends itself to being read aloud, so this smoothness is super important. While the writing is appropriate for young readers, kids old enough to be comfortable with the book’s vocabulary will likely find storyline too immature. Younger children listening to the story will probably get more enjoyment out of the book.
Going along with the lovely writing are the lovely illustrations. The pictures are drawn in a soft, cozy style, with muted colors and hazy backgrounds. This gives the book a calm, comforting feel that goes along with the story’s gentle message. One issue I had with the book is that most of the illustrations show Josh all alone in his imagined heaven. I’m sure this was a deliberate stylistic choice, perhaps to lead up to the idea that heaven is where you get to be with your deceased loved ones again, but I couldn’t help but feel that it looked a little too sad. This is a minor nitpick, of course, because the rest of the book does a wonderful job of making the afterlife seem comforting and not scary.
It’s important to note that the author offers a Christian worldview, mentioning that the deceased go up to heaven to stay with God. She paints a sweet and easily-understandable picture of what heaven might be like – “It’s building sandcastles that won’t wash away/And knowing you’ll be with all your family one day.” Still, parents may want to make sure that the book’s message aligns with their worldview before purchasing it for their kids.
Taking into account the beautiful illustrations and the heartfelt message, I’m happy to give this book 4 out of 4 stars. I highly recommend it to any family with young children who are dealing with the harsh realities of loss. Are There Cheeseburgers in Heaven? may help kids work through their grief more peacefully.
Are There Cheeseburgers in Heaven?
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