One day our young narrator and his more adventurous friend Esther invent a rather unusual pastime. Noticing a dead bee, Esther decides they should bury it with some ceremony. This inspires Esther to seek out other dead animals in need of a caring burial, roping in her younger brother Puttie to help them. Less than enthusiastic and more than a little squeamish our narrator contributes by writing verses of poetry. The children set up a company called ‘Funerals Ltd’ each with their job, grave digging, poetry writing, or in Puttie’s case – crying. With little concern for hygiene, by the end of the day donations of animal corpses and road-kill finds have been ceremoniously buried by the young team. There is an epiphany moment for our narrator when he witnesses a blackbird dying and overcomes his fears cradling and caring for the bird himself.
This is a very unusual illustrated short novel addressing the theme of death through the context of a children’s game. The story explores different responses to death, how we grieve, the role of ceremony and the value of all living things. Lightly told and translated from the original Swedish with humorous touches and perfectly matched soft illustrations. Children who have seen a dead animal or have lost a much-loved pet may find this story has particular resonance for them.