Review Blog

Oct 17 2019

Cleo and Rob by Helen Brown

cover image

Illus. by Phoebe Morris. Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781988547350
(Age: 5-12 years) Highly recommended. Themes: Families, Pets, Death, Grief. Helen Brown has written a very poignant story about the death of Sam and how his younger brother Rob deals with the loss. Helen Brown's family experienced this terrible tragedy and her picture book deals sensitively and carefully with bereavement and grief. The illustrations by Phoebe Morris show both detail and feeling and complement the story beautifully.
Sam is wanting a kitten for his birthday and finally convinces his mother to let him have one. The kitten is not ready to leave his own mother yet and the boys will need to wait until the end of the holidays. While they are waiting Sam dies tragically and Rob is left bereft and unable to cope with the loss. The kitten is brought to the house at the end of the holidays as planned and Rob finds the solace he has been searching for.
On researching Helen Brown further, I discovered her adult book version simply titled Cleo, is a best-seller and is currently being made into a motion picture. She was asked numerous times for a similar book to help support grieving families and younger children and decided to write Cleo and Rob through the eyes of her six year old son.
I believe this picture book is a worthwhile addition to any school and public library. It offers support for those struggling with grief and provides hope after a terrible tragedy.
Kathryn Beilby

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