Beyond Awful…the “Great” Beyond!

Grandpa and Me coverGrandpa and Me: We Learn About Death

Submitter: I was a librarian at a church library for a while, and weeding was particularly hilarious/disturbing given the religious perspective of the materials.  Don’t get me wrong, these types of books are invaluable for parents, but keeping them relevant is important.

Holly: Submitter blogged about this book at  Basically, Grandpa finds a dead kitten and teaches Maria about death.  Then Grandma chimes in with a religion lesson on death.  Poor Grandpa dies next.  Maria has experience with death now, though, so she understands better what has happened to Grandpa and where he has gone.  The weird thing about this book is the pictures.  Grandpa holds the dead kitty out for Maria – and our dear youth readers – to see clearly!  Yes, kittens and people die.  Yes, we might find them in a barn. Yes, we have to bury them. No, we don’t have to hold out the cute little dead kitty for close inspection.

Grandpa feeding sheep

Dead kitten

Burying dead kitten

Dead Grandpa


  1. I have actually read this book, My mother got fpr me from the library ….and then my grandfather died. Don’t read this book it is cursed!

  2. The final picture of grandpa waving goodbye from his deathbed is beyond disturbing. Both of my grandfathers died when I was four or five, and I dealt with it just fine. This book would have given me nightmares.

  3. When I was four, my parents took me to a distant relative’s funeral, and it was much less disturbing than this. The images from this book are going to haunt me for weeks.

  4. i’m pretty sure in the last picture he’s reaching toward a giant black monolith

  5. I think someone got this book for my young cousin when our grandfather died. I clearly remember reading him something about a dead kitten and then a dead grandparent. At 15 I found it rather disturbing but at 4 he was really into it.

  6. I don’t see why we shouldn’t inspect the dead cat. Kids want to know what the difference is between dead and alive. Hiding death or preventing close inspection just generates fear. Kudos to the publishers for facing death in a matter of fact way.

  7. One grandfather died when I was four the other when I was twenty-two. I barely remember the first and grieved the second. Fortunately this book wasn’t available. It’s only now after seeing it that I feel like I’ll have nightmares. ( I’m 53). Good intentions gone astray.

  8. When I was a kid I saw a lot of dead things, but they were like crayfish and turtles. Not cute. We did have some kittens die when a tom snuck into the shed and killed them. They will do this sometimes. Our parents luckily found them first. They buried them somewhere and explained everything to us afterward. I was such a sensitive child, seeing a dead kitten would have traumatized me. I think my parents did the right thing.

  9. I had the same reaction as Stephen. In a book about facing death, and accepting it, and answering questions about it, why *not* let the child inspect the dead kitten?

    People used to wash their own dead relatives and put them in the parlor before burial. We’ve become very squeamish about death.

  10. There was this man–we’ll call him Roger–who had to go out of town on business, and so left his cat in the care of a neighbour. Now, the man loved his cat, loved his cat beyond all things, so much so that the very night of the day he left he called his neighbour to inquire into the general health and emotional well-being of this dear feline. And so he asked his neighbour, “How is my sweet little darling precious cat? Tell me, neighbour, please.”

    And the neighbour said, “I’m sorry to have to tell you this, ROger. But your cat is dead. It was run over by a car. Killed instantly. Sorry.”

    Roger was shocked! And not merely at the news of his cat’s demise–as if that weren’t enough!–but also at the way in which he was told about it.

    So he said, he said, “That’s not the way you tell somebody about something as horrible as this! When something like this happens you tell the person slowly, you ease them into it. You prepare them! For instance. When I called this evening you should have said, Your cat’s on the roof. Then the next time I call you would say, The cat’s still on the roof, he won’t come down and he’s looking pretty sick. Then the next time I call you might tell me the cat fell off the roof and that he’s now at he vet in intensive care. Then, the next time I call you tell me–your voice sort of quivery and shaky–that he died. Got it?”

    “Got it,” said the neighbour. “Sorry.”

    So three days later Roger called the neighbour again, because his neighbour was still watching the house and checking his mail, et cetera, and Roger wanted to know if anything important had happened. And the neighbour said, “Yes. As a matter of fact, yes. Something important has happened.”

    “Well?” asked Roger.

    “Well,” the neighbour said. “It’s about your father.”

    “My father!” exclaimed Roger. “My father! What about my father?”

    “Your father, “said the neighbour, “is on the roof . . .”

    -Daniel Wallace, Big Fish

  11. I don’t know how many birds used to hit the window when I was a kid. It seemed I was always burying dead birds. Death is a part of life. Still, if someone had given me this book to read when I was a kid, I probably would’ve had nightmares too.

  12. At least the SHEEP was OK, which confirms my motto:

    “Better a thousand years as a sheep than a day as a tiger”

    (…or a kitten for that matter).

  13. How many kittens were killed in the making of this book!!!??? I doubt the ASPCA signed off on this.

  14. I don’t think this book seems bad at all. There are always parents asking for books that deal with difficult subjects. The photos aren’t that bad, and kids do see their pets die; one way to explain it to kids when people die is to remind them of when a pet died. If the grandpa in the book lives on a farm, it also makes sense that they would see animals (like a kitten) in the story I don’t see anything wrong with a child seeing a dead kitten, either–there is nothing gruesome about that photo. Unless there was a much superior replacement, I would keep this in a collection. There are usually very few books that deal with death.

  15. We had one like this but it was a dead parakeet instead of a kitten and you didn’t see grandpa on his deathbed. The kid got a red umbrella instead of a black one to make the funeral less depressing. It was part of a series. There was also one on being in the hospital (tonsils) and one on physically handicapped peers.

  16. “I remember when my dad died. I was only six. Got loads of presents from everyone like it was Christmas. I remember wishing a couple of more people would die so I could complete my Lego set. Grandma tried to explain, you know? She said he’d gone away and he wasn’t coming back. So I wanted to know where, like, you know? She said he was very happy and went to the same place as my goldfish. So I thought they’d flushed him down the bog. I thought he was just round the U-bend, you know? I used to stuff food down and magazines and that, for him to read. They took me to a child psychologist in the end… because they found me with my head down the bowl reading him the football results.” — Lister, “Red Dwarf”

  17. Wow. Maybe everyone should just admit there’s NO GOOD WAY to write about this for kids? I mean, who whips out a dead kitten?

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