Dark and hilarious.

Starred review, Kirkus Reviews

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All the Dear Little Animals


A funny illustrated chapter book about three children who decide someone must bury all the world’s poor dead animals.

Translated by Julia Marshall



  • Description

    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 OriginSweden
    Reader Age5-7 year, 6-8 year
    Book Size

  • Reviews

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  • Reviews

    1. 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.

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