Dark and hilarious.

Starred review, Kirkus Reviews

All the Dear Little Animals

$17.99$24.99

Three children decide someone must bury all the world’s poor dead animals.

Written by Ulf Nilsson and illustrated by Eva Eriksson

Translated by Julia Marshall

Available as an ebook wherever you buy your ebooks

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  • Description

    ‘The whole world is full of dead things,’ said Esther. ‘In every bush there is a bird, a butterfly, a mouse. Someone must be kind and look after them. Someone must make a sacrifice and see that all these things are buried.’ ‘Who must?’ I asked. ‘We must,’ she said. Esther was very brave. I was little and scared. One summer’s day we started a business called Funerals Ltd., to help all the poor dead animals in the world. Esther did the digging, I wrote the poems, and Esther’s little brother, Puttie, cried.

     


  • Book Details

    Country of Origin Sweden
    Reader Age 5-7 year, 6-8 year
    Book Size
    ISBN

  • Reviews

    1. Outside in World

      this tender, funny and unusual story captures perfectly the child’s perspective and it offers plenty of opportunities for discussions whether it’s in a classroom environment or one to one.

    2. INIS Magazine, Highly Recommended

      A disarming book in form and substance that will delight children and adults alike and provide an unpretentious space for themes of death, loss and hope to be explored in a healthy way.

    3. The Horn Book

      This illustrated early chapter book is a darkly comedic exploration of life and death…Honest and uncomfortable humor within the soft, pale vignettes and full-page and double-page-spread art captures the book’s spirit

    4. Wandering Bookseller

      Death evokes intrigue, curiosity, emotions and even laughs in this endearing and developmentally appropriate book about the morbid side of life!

    5. The Midwest Book Review

      Nilsson perfectly captures the child’s perspective, balancing compassion and humor when dealing with the subject of death and dying. A very funny and impressively ‘kid friendly’ story about a topic that touches anyone who has every had a pet or enjoyed watching wildlife. A unique and highly recommended addition to school and community library collections for children.

    6. Waking Brain Cells

      I adore Nilsson’s approach to children’s book with his deep understanding of the way that children think and act. This book feels like my childhood, dealing with deep and serious thought one day and moving on. It offers a skillful balance of morose, serious sadness with a sunny summer day, a business idea, and time spent with friends. It’s that juxtaposition and the frank approach of the children toward death that makes this book work so well.

      The illustrations by Eriksson really add to the mix of sorrow and sunshine. They are dappled green and gold. Children will appreciate that the dead animals are shown to the reader, tucked into their boxes or on their way to being buried. The final pages with all of the headstones and graves are both humorous and touching.

      Funny and serious, just like childhood.

    7. Jill Bennett, Red Reading Hub

      Both playful and sad, with a touch of whimsy, the combination of text and illustration is just right for those starting out as solo readers, as well as for sharing. More importantly though, the book offers a way to talk about death with young children from any faith tradition or none, that should help them transcend feelings of sadness.

      Although written from a child with a Christian world view’s perspective of death, if shared in an education setting, the book could open up a whole topic on religious rituals.

    8. Lancashire Post

      A beautiful, sensitively written and gently funny story, useful as an introduction to the subject, and to help them understand the concept of death in an everyday, unsentimental, child’s view context of play.

      Early readers will love the dry humour and simple but powerful story which answers many of the questions children might ask about death in the familiar and comforting context of outdoor playtime.

    9. Read it, Daddy!

      This book beautifully caters for kids who mildly obsess about death and what it means. Esther’s idea is to begin a funeral business called Funerals Ltd – along with her siblings they set out to ensure that all the dear (dead) little animals in bushes and hedgerows get a proper honourable send-off.

      I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this – a book that deftly treads between that oh-so-serious gallows-humour that kids possess sometimes, and what it feels like when something you’ve loved so much is lost for good and passes over.

      Yet it’s beautiful – not just to look at but to read aloud, as the story gently unfolds and Esther’s ‘wise beyond her years’ approach to death begins to make sense.

      Utterly fabulous and so glad to see it coming back for a whole new generation of readers.

    10. Stephanie Tournas, Youth Services Book Review

      In this precious slice-of-life story, three young friends start a business called Funerals Ltd. They bury dead pets and any other animals they can find who have expired, including road kill. Rock tombstones, a cross, and a poem are offered and the youngest just cries for the departed. It all takes place during one long summer day. It’s a very sweet look at death for young children, made easy to digest by the repeated ruminations on each animal. The narrator’s short poems are adorable, and Eriksson’s art is just perfect.

    11. Tasha, Waking Brain Cells

      This book feels like my childhood, dealing with deep and serious thought one day and moving on. It offers a skillful balance of morose, serious sadness with a sunny summer day, a business idea, and time spent with friends. It’s that juxtaposition and the frank approach of the children toward death that makes this book work so well.

      The illustrations by Eriksson really add to the mix of sorrow and sunshine. They are dappled green and gold. Children will appreciate that the dead animals are shown to the reader, tucked into their boxes or on their way to being buried. The final pages with all of the headstones and graves are both humorous and touching.

      Funny and serious, just like childhood.

    12. Booklist (starred)

      One quiet day, when a boy (the narrator) and his friend Esther have nothing to do, they find a dead bumblebee. Esther takes the lead, grabbing a shovel and burying the bee in a cigar-box coffin, while the boy recites a little poem over the grave. They’re so moved that they decide to look for more dead things to bury, with help from Esther’s little brother. Next, they find a dead mouse and give him a solemn burial, thinking, “We were the nicest people in the world.” Soon they start an animal funeral business, burying a pet hamster, a rooster, a blackbird, and even roadkill: a hedgehog and a hare. Along the way, the children talk about death itself. The narrative concludes, “The next day we did something else. Something completely different.” First published in Sweden, the book has a childlike tone that is reverent, winsome, and matter-of-fact. The kids’ attitudes toward death differ realistically according to their ages and personalities. Sometimes amusing and sometimes moving, Nilsson’s simply written text is always satisfying. Eriksson’s sensitive, beguiling pencil drawings with color washes brighten every double-page spread. Like Margaret Wise Brown’s The Dead Bird (1958, 2016), this pitch-perfect book shows children dealing with death in their own ways and then moving on.

    13. Publishers Weekly (starred)

      Nilsson and Eriksson bring a whiff of Scandinavian noir to this lengthy, small-format picture book. After an encounter with “something sad and tragic”—a dead bee—Esther buries the insect, then makes a pronouncement. “Someone unselfish must make sure all these dead things get buried,” she tells the narrator, a boy in a plaid shirt. So they start a business, Funerals Ltd. The boy is a reluctant undertaker but a good writer (“There are lots of words inside me”), and he contributes a short poem for each funeral (“Farewell Harold, wee Harold so bold”). Esther solicits new business, sometimes with startling cynicism—“We will never forget him. That’s what we’re paid for!” Deftly translated by Marshall, the text laces honest consideration of a difficult subject with winningly mordant humor. Lindgren Award–winner Eriksson’s (My Heart Is Laughing) lightly penned images of the children burying animals are the visual equivalent of Nilsson’s offhand tone. It’s only after the children tackle logistical matters—touching corpses, how to explain death to Esther’s little brother, whether the gravestones need proper names—that a moment of real tenderness occurs: they witness a blackbird’s sudden death, and even brusque Esther is moved. A sly, thoughtful, many-layered story.

    14. Kirkus Reviews (starred)

      The story cleverly—and tenderly—pivots near its end, giving it a touching depth (with a twist). Eriksson’s keenly observed illustrations include full-page and double-page spreads as well as spots, and they are as wickedly hilarious as the text in their understated expressions and details.


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