CM . . .
. Volume XV Number 14. . . .March 6, 2009
Mireille Levert has created two imaginative and whimsical creatures for her charming allegory about moving on after the death of a beloved pet. Tulip is a tiny watering fairy, and Lupin, her constant companion, is a diminutive dog bee. Together they tend flowers, with Tulip providing dewy drops and Lupin extracting sips of nectar. However, their days of fluttering over fields of flowers, howling at the full moon and snuggling sleepily together cannot last because "as everyone knows, dog bees don't live as long as watering fairies." When Lupin dies, Tulip sadly buries him and, after a period of mourning, embarks on a journey in which she encounters new experiences that help her heal. The journey is complete when she returns home and finds a puppy bee to love and teach while honouring Lupin's memory.
Mireille Levert is a Quebec artist who has previously won two Governor General's literary awards for illustration. She uses colours to great effect in this story. Her sumptuous watercolors in deep reds - the colour of love - evoke the profound joy that Tulip and Lupin share. And when they are feeling "a little bit melancholy," her palette provides shades of blue. As Tulip embarks on her healing journey, the soft greens and blues of the flowing water are quietly soothing. The bright reds return to the pages when Tulip discovers the little puppy and is ready to love again. This gentle story is an effective mechanism to address the loss of a pet or special someone. Unfortunately, Levert has violated the taboo of equating sleep with death, which is not recommended for literal young children as it creates anxiety about sleeping. Parents and teachers may need to forestall this fear by explaining how the body simply stops working and reiterating that it is not sleeping. That said, this sweet story never becomes saccharine or didactic as it shows the natural process of life moving forward and the new possibilities that can be discovered. With the reservation noted above, the book is....
Alison Mews is Co-ordinator of the Centre for Instructional Services, Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland, in St. John's, NL.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.