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Missing Mummy

Posted on May 22, 2012

Rebecca Cobb
(Macmillan Children’s Books)

Some time ago we said goodbye to Mummy.
I am not sure where she has gone
.

So begins the story in Missing Mummy, a powerful story with a little boy’s journey through grief, understanding and finally acceptance of his mother’s passing at its heart. This heart wrenching story presents the loss of a parent from a child’s point of view and from the first spread, the tone is set:

I love Rebecca Cobb’s style. It is so childlike, thanks to the crayon like style, so simple and yet profoundly evocative. The use of colour in the illustration above is particularly striking, with colour only used on the two children. This could be taken in several ways: that they do not feel grief in the same way or do not understand it as much. But I think there is something more hopeful in that: that despite the grief, there is hope in those children. This is very strong imagery and the illustrator is particularly skilled at conveying emotion through the artwork. It is done in the most gentle manner, but always very honestly too.

The theme of hope carries on throughout the story, as alongside dealing with the sadness of bereavement, Missing Mummy is also about celebrating the life of the person who has passed and treasuring one’s memories. Rather than focus on the void left by the mother’s absence, Missing Mummy shows how the family still remains a family, possibly even more close knit, and that the mother is still part of that, in a different way. It also shows that a child may become motherless, but still has a mother, and that his place in the family remains unchanged. But don’t be fooled, there is unbearable and heavy sadness in this book. But it is always dealt with with a gentleness of touch, a soft sense of humour, and despite the tears you will shed (you will, trust me, especially if you are a parent), you will feel uplifted at the end.

Books such as Missing Mummy are vital when dealing with bereavement in a child’s life: for a child who is dealing with loss and not understanding his confused emotions, for the adults around the child trying to comprehend how he or she might be dealing with their grief.  It might also help explain death and passing to children more generally.
Missing Mummy is not as dark as Charlotte Moundlic ‘s The Scar (see my review here) but this does not make it any less effective.

Missing Mummy is a touching, honest book which approaches a difficult subject with beauty and compassion.

All illustrations © Rebecca Cobb

Many thanks to Macmillan Children’s Books for sending me a review copy of “Missing Mummy”.

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