Title: Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories (Chester the Raccoon #5)
Author: Audrey Penn
Illustrator: Barbara Leonard Gibson
From Goodreads: "Chester Raccoon's good friend Skiddel Squirrel has had an accident and will not be returning - ever. Chester is upset that he won't get to play with his friend anymore. Mrs. Raccoon suggests that Chester and his friends create some memories of Skiddel, so that they will have good memories when they miss him. Chester, his brother Ronny, and their friends decide to gather at the pond, where they combine their memories and create a touching celebration of their friend's life.
Many young children must face the loss of loved ones or the need to attend a funeral. This sweet story will help children to understand the positive purpose behind memorial services and how "making memories" can provide cheer and comfort when missing an absent loved one."
My Opinion: This was such a sad yet poignant little book. For everyone who has ever been asked what being dead means from a child who has lost a friend or loved one, you know how hard it is to answer that question. I thought Audrey Penn did a phenomenal job with it. When Chester Raccoon's friend Skiddel Squirrel has an accident and his teacher tells the class he will not be returning ever again, he wants to know what happened and why. His mother tells him just like old Mr. Beaver, "His heart quit beating and his body didn't work any more." Chester now understands, and "his insides felt jumbled and he was very sad." I think that's a wonderful way to describe this feeling in language a child would understand.
When Chester is still upset, Mrs. Raccoon suggests that they make a memory of Skiddil Squirrel, "that way you'll never forget him." She explains what that means and they set out to go to one of Skiddil Squirrels favorite places to play, and along the way they pick up a whole slew of friends who want to make a memory of him as well.
As usual, Audrey Penn takes a very difficult subject down to a child's level, not telling too much or too little, and makes it easier to understand. Also as usual, Barbara Leonard Gibson's illustrations are spot on and adorable to boot.
I highly recommend this book to parents who are trying to help their little one understand and deal with death and give it a special 5 stars :D