Dyson-Holland’s ethereal, emotional book tackles one of the most challenging life events most people will face: the death of a loved one. Twin brothers Richard and Matthew are grieving the loss of their grandfather. The boys long to maintain a connection to their beloved Poppy, and throughout the story they whisper to him in their dreams, text him pictures, and share their favorite songs. The kids’ playful outreach causes the late Poppy’s brain to buzz “like a mobile phone does when a message has been sent”–though it is something of an inconvenience for Poppy. He is in the middle of an important meeting in Heaven, where he’s striving to change the way special-needs kids like his grandsons are treated on Earth.
Throughout this lyrical tale, Shen Li’s dreamlike pastel illustrations show Richard and Matthew texting and playing music while surrounded by glittering clouds, as well as Poppy talking with various heavenly figures and looking anguished (and even exclaiming an embarrassed “Oh, poop!”) while receiving the messages from this mortal realm. Ultimately, Poppy understands visiting his grandsons in their dreams is his most important role–a realization accompanied by a bright, full-color image of all three of them dancing in the sunshine.
Dyson-Holland’s real-life sons inspired this book, as they were overwhelmed and confused following the death of Dyson-Holland’s father. “Even though my sons are on the autism spectrum and have intellectual difficulties, an ending of life is something that many of us struggle to understand and accept,” Dyson-Holland writes. Her choice to explore otherworldly connections between family members within the framework of digital correspondence emphasizes the tangible and familiar, making it easier for kids to comprehend. This book serves as a comforting reminder for children and adults of all ages and abilities that our links to our family members and friends do not vanish after they pass away.
Poppy's buzzing brain
Reading the book it brought home to me the love that the boys had for their Poppy who was a central and important feature of their daily life. Them trying to re-connect with Poppy in their belief that they could still have this connection.
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