The Yellow Leaf is a story about two young children who find themselves brought together by unimaginable loss. Andy’s brother and Grace’s mother have both died and they are left to process a multitude of feelings. The journey begins with a single yellow ‘leaf of grief’ that guides the pair through a colourful forest of emotion. Readers will be invited to gaze at the illustrations that show variations of anger, fear, worry, sadness and moments of happiness, helping children to understand that grief is not linear and that there is no perfect way to grieve.
Co-authored by child bereavement counsellor Bianca Lavorgna, the book purposely uses concrete language so children can name what has happened and begin to process their feelings. The wonderful illustrations drawn by Australia’s very own Caroline Keys provide a visual for children to identify with and point to as a way of expressing themselves if they don’t feel like talking yet.
Erika Heynatz - Australian model, actress, singer and television personality.
“This is a story that teaches children that all of the emotions associated with grief are ok, even the hot, red and angry ones. The use of colour is a great tool for children to help easily identify how they are feeling and be more comfortable sharing those feeling with others. The leaves are a lovely metaphor for these emotions, reminding them that just like seasons, they will shift and change inside them all the time.”
Dr Christine Grove (PhD, MAPS, FCEDP) Educational & Developmental Psychologist and Academic
When someone close to a child dies it is a difficult time. Most children are aware of death, even if they don’t fully understand it. Adults can’t protect children from the pain of loss, but they can help build healthy coping skills in response. The Yellow Leaf book shows that it is okay to grieve when someone dies, and that there is not one perfect way to experience the death of someone we love. As the reader, we are on a journey with Andy and Grace as they seek to understand their feelings and experiences after someone close to them has died.
The Yellow Leaf delicately allows and encourages a child grieving to understand their journey and express their emotions, that will serve well into the future. This is a thoughtful children’s book about death that removes stigma and euphemisms about dying and instead shares a story that recognises grief, compassion and growth. Adult and child reading this book together can be a supportive way to have an honest conversation with a child about death. Often these conversations are challenging but The Yellow Leaf sensitively and with empathy guides this journey. Since many children may not be able to express their emotions through words, the engaging pictures also tell a heart-warming story guided by a yellow leaf of grief.
I would use The Yellow Leaf children’s grief book as a parent, health care practitioner or educator if someone or something close to a child has died. The book could also be a resource with the school wellbeing team, providing a gentle opening and guidance during a potentially challenging experience for children.
Ebony-Jane Carroll was born and lives in Melbourne Australia. Known best for her whimsical children’s books written in rhyme, she has created a dedicated young fan base who love to read about her unusual characters and their heart-warming journeys.