David Dies at the End

David Has Aids coverDavid Has Aids

Yes, our friend Doris is back for another instructive lesson on the realities of life. In today’s story, a boy named David has AIDS (not HIV) and is dying. Long time readers will recognize the art and ridiculous non-story.  Be sure and click on her previous titles so you can get the full creepy experience.

Like her other books, there is no real story other than David has AIDS. Of course he is shunned and has no friends. A boy named Washington befriends him for maybe one page or so and then David dies. Grandma is kind enough to give David the 411 on death.  A feel good story if there ever was one.


David has Aids back cover

health safety rules for aids

most dangerous person




  1. Wow, great way to start the morning. I always feel a little sick to my stomach when her books come up. I’m sure they were written for a specific purpose. But for what, I cannot fathom. Excuse me now. I need to go find some puppies to play with.

  2. “Dying is like going into a movie theater early and seeing the end of the story before you see the rest, and then staying to watch the movie from the beginning.”

    Am I the only one who doesn’t get this at all? This metaphor makes zero sense to me and I don’t get how that would be comforting to a child. OMG, this is so much fail.

    1. Yup. It makes absolutely zero sense to me either.

      Maybe Grandma’s got dementia and it’s a teaser or sequel hook for the author’s next book.

      1. That’s really the only logical explanation. I re-read that bit several times and it makes no sense whatsoever.

      2. As a matter of fact, another book in her “In Our Neighborhood” series is titled “Maria’s Grandma Gets Mixed Up”. So I’m leaning towards yes.

    2. A generous reading is:

      The movie is life.
      “Seeing the end of the movie early” is dying at an early age.
      “Staying around to watch the beginning of the movie” is monitoring what happens among the living from your vantage point in heaven.

      1. I think that’s being a bit too generous. If the movie is life, wouldn’t seeing the ending first mean dying before you were born? And then staying to watch it from the beginning would mean being born (again?) into the same life (since it’s the same movie) and then living a full life (i.e. not dying young on the second go-round)? I showed this to a friend whose (mostly joking) guess was that the author and/or grandmother is trying to explain reincarnation in a child-friendly way, but that seems like it would be catching the end of one movie, forgetting you saw it and then staying around to watch another movie playing in the same theater.

        I think I’m just going to stick with my dementia theory. “It doesn’t make sense” is the only explanation that really makes sense.

        Also, I didn’t say it before, but the art on this book has me really creeped out. All of Doris Sanford’s books have a kind of creepy quality to the art, but this one is way above and beyond the others. Yikes!

  3. I really hadn’t heard about Doris Sanford until I saw this post. She has managed to dodge the internet radar. I gather she is a family therapist? But what credentials? And is she that unaware of her client-base that she would not see her books as disturbing children, not helping them?

  4. I also need puppies, and some kittens, and maybe a few baby raccoons to distract me from this horror. This really beats out her others—hard as that is to believe. But, wow!! I am so glad to hear that they still have continuous run movies in David’s town….everyone there can experience death before they die. Sorry, but WTF? [you can censor that last if you want].

  5. So if you have “Aids” (grammar screwup on the publisher’s part, should be AIDS) you die.

    Unlike everyone else, who never dies?

  6. There have been so many advances in AIDs and HIV treatment since this was written so it needs to GTFO on that account, but the creepy artwork and bad story seal the deal. I knew going into this post that I would have to look at creepy art but I didn’t realize there would be an illustrated death scene. How does that make kids feel better about AIDs?

  7. I would just like to say that this post title, combined with the title of the book, made me snort loudly at a very quiet reference desk. I’m still used to David Wong being the best humor writer nobody’s ever heard of, so it’s always a joy to see him crop up outside his natural habitat.

  8. Holy crap that art is incredibly sad and disturbing. But then, it’s a very sad and disturbing subject.

    I hope there are better books on this subject. I really could’ve used one when I was in elementary school, or at least my mother could have. I was in third or fourth grade, and there was a young kindergartner on my bus who my mother said had AIDS; she said he had been born with it and was being taken care of by his grandparents. He was very sweet and quiet, but my mother was always telling me to leave him alone–never touch him, never sit by him, stay far away from him if he coughs or wets himself (WTF, she actually specified wets himself). Obviously I never listened to her, and sat by him all the time. Once my family and I were out in a restaurant and we saw him with his grandmother, and he pointed to me and said, “Grandma, that’s my girlfriend!” Still makes me cry to this day.

    1. Karen, how precious. Good on you for being his friend. Have you attempted looking him up?
      MAy good karma follow you!

  9. The illustrations look as though they were done by a forensic artist. They have a “in a court room” quality to them.
    Really not a good book for children, especially given the advances made in treating HIV. I also don’t understand the movie/death
    comparison either. Maybe that is a set for a “prequel” to this book (shudder). I’m going go hug my pugs! This book needs to go!

  10. My only wish is that someone (like, say, Doris herself) creates a ‘remix’ of her books. A medley, if you will, incorporating into just one story all the breathless tales of horror. Imagine it: little Jamie, challenged with cerebral palsy, has suffered sexually at the hands of her drunk and drug-addled uncle/father/brother (pick one – or pick ’em all!) but then must deal with her depressed mother, who divorces dear old boozer dad, who kidnaps her, tossing her into a Satanic cult, who refuse to let her read her junior theology books (which she’s smuggled in). For no reason at all, the Satanic cult’s hideout bursts into flames and little Jamie catches cancer from the asbestos in the ceiling. Sure enough, just as soon as she begins some regression therapy for all this (which involves lots of hugs and writing letters), she immediately finds out she’s adopted and, because of this, comes down with “Aids”, at which point her crazy, mixed-up Grandmother tells her this cockamamie line about movies before offering her a hit on a joint, saying, “It must hurt a lot…” Finally feeling free to be obnoxious and a bully, little Jamie gets ready to rip Granny a new one but decides to just continue being a victim and dies.

    1. I would have been marked for life if I’d seen that book (just the pictures!) as a little kid. It’s extraordinarily creepy; most of all, of course, the dying and dead David.

      Victorian children’s books were filled with small corpses. The readers turned out peculiar on the whole, but got a lot done, transcontinental railroads, families of 10, and like that.

      The movie analogy is so twisted that you couldn’t fit it into any system of belief or non-belief I know of.

      He was a hemophiliac and caught it from a transfusion. The blood supply is tested now. Does it say so in the book? If a little kid gets hurt and has to have a transfusion (or even a shot?), will he think it’s a death sentence?

      He’s also a very, very white white kid. He looks like a ghost. I wouldn’t give this book to anybody under 45.

      If it was just this book I’d say “Good try,” but in combination with the others, especially the devil stories, they’re just off my list. Disclaimer: I am not a librarian. But I read and give books.

      1. This was supposed to be top level. Sorry about that, John. But I’d like to see the remix, possibly behind lead glass.

  11. From the back cover: “The kids at school avoid him, and there doesn’t seem to be any neighborhood children around.”
    Really? Did the editor of this book die prematurely, too?

  12. David is related to Maria, the girl in Maria’s Grandma Gets Mixed Up, another In Our Neighborhood book! That would explain everything…

  13. Oh, oh, oh! I have to add another comment! This author is the one who wrote the “You’ll Never Guess What Happened” series, including my all time favorite (no, I haven’t read it, my favoritism is based on the title alone) Once I Was Obnoxious…and You’ll Never Guess What Happened. This series comes with a paper doll! I so want to see what sort of paper doll would be obnoxious.

  14. Unless I’m missing something, doesn’t the book use the correct AIDS spelling? I only see it as “Aids” on this website’s blurb.

  15. The second I spotted the horrible Pastel Of Doom picture, and knew it was going to be DORIS BLOODY SANFORD AGAIN!!
    I love the bizarre line about people who don’t know that they have AIDS are dangerous. This is a book for children! Child HIV sufferers aren’t going to be having unprotected sex or donating blood, and are therefore a zero percent threat to anyone else.
    Actually, it’s us non-HIV positive people who are the threat to people who have it, because we’re much more likely to make them sick than the other way round!
    Is Grandma suffering from dementia? What on earth is that crazy metaphor about going to the pictures all about?

  16. I know this book is outdated for a general collection, but it gives you a very good idea of the mindset of the time. AIDS is still not curable, though HIV is much more treatable than it once was, but it was horrifying to see young people struck down in their prime, and this went on for years before effective treatment was available. And euphemisms like “bodily fluids” led people to believe the virus was much more easily transmitted than it is, which led to the paranoia and isolation that are described in the book.
    All of which makes it a period piece, I suppose.

    (I don’t get the movie analogy either!)

  17. Does anyone else think that this book will make kids more unsettled than they were before they read this book?

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