Warren Hanson, Author and Illustrator
Waldman House Press, Fiction, 1997
Suitable for: Ages 5 and Up
Theme: Grief and Bereavement, Celebration of Life
Opening and Synopsis: “The next place I go will be as peaceful and familiar as a sleepy summer Sunday and a sweet, untroubled mind. And yet…it won’t be anything like any place I’ve ever been…or seen… or even dreamed of in the place I leave behind. I won’t know where I’m going, and I won’t know where I’ve been as I tumble through the always and look back toward the when.” This is a beautiful picture book for children and adults about letting go to a place where light and love will shine forever. After 9/11, a grassroots effort formed called “The Next Place Network, and this book was given to surviving families.
Says Warren Hanson about his book: ““The Next Place is a peaceful, comforting, quiet and hopeful book for times when we face the loss of someone we love. Or for when we face the reality of our own certain death. It is very deliberately not a traditionally religious look at death and the hereafter. We live in a world of many beliefs and backgrounds. I did not want the book to leave anyone out of its message of comfort. So I created the words and the illustrations in such a way that I hoped the reader would bring his or her own faith to it. Since the book came out, it has been embraced by people of many different religions and beliefs.”
Why I like this book: Warren Hanson’s book is a celebration of life and portrays an afterlife in a non-religious, beautiful and soft way. It is an inspirational and poetic journey about death. The illustrations are gorgeous. This is a book I would give to a family that is dealing with the loss of a loved one. It is an uplifting book to read and discuss with children when they have lost a member of a family through war, an illness, an accident. It would also be helpful to share if you have a family will soon making a transition. This book brings hope and puts a smile on your face. Kids will be so much more open to talking and asking questions.
Activities: Have children plant a special tree in memory of a loved one. Have them draw or write about special memories so they won’t forget. Make a memory box where you can put something special that belonged to a loved one inside. You may want to add photos, cards/letters written to the child by the loved one. That way kids can touch, read, and look at the items, and keep their memories alive.