Starting conversations about loss and grief
Written by Charlotte Agell and Illustrated by Ana Ramirez Gonzalez
Elba the pink hippo and Norris the alligator couldn’t be more different. Elba has a block. It is large and very heavy, and she drags with her wherever she goes. Norris skips and dances and is always surrounded by a happy cloud of butterflies.
With Norris’s gentle prodding and willingness to befriend Elba as she is, he invites her to join him on a trip to the ocean. As their friendship grows stronger, Elba reveals why she carries her big, heavy block. Norris doesn’t judge Elba, instead he just listens, tries to understand, and helps her carry the block as best he can. Maybe Tomorrow? is an important book for children (ages 4 to 8), but it is also an important read for adults, helping us remember what children really need from us.
This tender exploration of loss illuminates how kindness, empathy, and friendship can lift our spirits and see us through many tomorrows. It will resonate with anyone who has experienced hardship or grief, from the death of a loved one or a pet, to a friend moving away, or the transition to a new home or family situation.
As parents, teachers, and caregivers we often forget how important it is to just be there for our little ones; to listen, to be patient, and understand their big feelings. It’s not always about remedying the situation right away.
Here’s what others have to say…
Mary Lee: “Sometimes in our lives we’re the ones dragging the heavy block, and sometimes we’re the ones with butterflies around our heads. Norris doesn’t judge Elba, he just listens and tries to understand and helps her carry the block as best he can.”
Olivia: “This picture book deals with a complex topic in an approachable and understandable way. While grief/depression is not so easily visualized in real life, the block presents a way for children to understand and conceptualize it. This is a great way to begin a discussion about grief/depression in their own lives and/or of that in others’ lives.”
Trina Hines: “Two years ago my twin sons died in the NICU after being born 16 weeks premature. Since then I’ve read countless books about infant loss and grief. I’m a preschool teacher and this book was brought to me by a parent in my class whose daughter’s guinea pig died. I felt so connected to it in my own life that I bought it for myself. Some day, when she is older, my rainbow baby (my daughter born after the deaths of my sons) will have questions. Questions about her big brothers, about the feelings that my husband and I have surrounding their deaths, and about the feelings she might have too. I know I’ll have this book to read to her when that time.”
Anonymous: “This is an incredible book that depicts the struggles of grief beautifully. I got my copy today and immediately bought four more to share with friends who are in a season of grief. This book is a great way to show support to a friend, to talk to young children about grief, or to keep yourself focused on hope in the midst of your own journey.”
Lynn Plourde: “I adore this book by Charlotte Agell – simple, yet profound. A picture book for ALL AGES. The grief never goes away, but it’s easier to carry that grief when a friend helps you with it. The language is perfect and makes the reader pause to absorb the story. The colourful, butterfly-filled illustrations by Ramirez Gonzalez are the perfect counterbalance to what could seem like a sad story. A book with the power to change readers!”