I first discovered author Isabel Minhós Martins through The World in a Second. Because I enjoyed that book so much, I wanted to read more of her work. I found a few more titles of hers at my local library. Not all of her books are translated to English yet (from Portuguese) but out of the few I could get my hands on, I thought this one was very good.
Death, loss and change aren’t easy topics to discuss at any age and I know that parents often look for books that gracefully tackle these subjects. What I like about Where Do We Go When We Disappear? is that it’s very reflective, thought provoking and it isn’t necessarily about death, so parents can use this book however they need.
Martins says that for someone to disappear, someone must first notice the disappearance. Therefore, it always takes at least two people for someone’s loss to be recognized; for the missing to begin. And with the missing begins the questions and Martins opens the story to the discussion of disappearance of all kinds of things in our world! This can help a child begin to make connections and start healing. Even socks disappear, for example! (Who knows where they go??) Nothing lasts forever and some things take longer to disappear. But everything doesn’t disappear to NOTHING. Matter is recycled, exchanged and shifts and on and on it goes…
Martin’s evocative text is accompanied by Matoso’s bold illustrations. The bright, blocky illustrations are just enough for the text, to spark discussion. Smiling humans, sad humans, trees, winding roads, nature and the ocean; the pictures are strong yet gentle. Where Do We Go When We Disappear? is a beautiful book that’s good for all ages. It does a great job of starting conversations about existence, life, death and change.
P.S. For parents looking for a secular book about death, this book does mention “heaven” but in relation to where puddles go to eventually become clouds. It’s quite interesting.
Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Discussion, Change, Death, Family, Loss, Nature, Permanence, Reflection, Relationships, Sadness
Book Info: Where Do We Go When We Disappear? by Isabel Minhós Martins/Illustrated by Madalena Matoso, 2013 Tate Publishing, ISBN: 9781849761604