Book review: A Shelter for Sadness

A Shelter for Sadness by Anne Booth and David Litchfield

More about the book…

A poignant and heart-warming picture book exploring the nature of sadness, beautifully illustrated by David Litchfield.

Sadness has come to live with me

and I am building it a shelter.

I am building a shelter for my sadness

and welcoming it inside.

A small boy creates a shelter for his sadness, a safe space where Sadness is welcome, where it can curl up small, or be as big as it can be, where it can be noisy or quiet, or anything in between. The boy can visit the shelter whenever he needs to, every day, sometimes every hour, and the two of them will cry and talk or just sit, saying nothing.

And the boy knows that one day Sadness may come out of the shelter, and together they will look out at the world, and see how beautiful it is.

A poignant and heart-warming picture book exploring the importance of making space and time for our own griefs, small or large, sensitively visualized with David Litchfield’s stunning illustration.

Anne Booth was inspired to write this book by the words of Etty Hillesum, a Holocaust victim who wrote:

‘Give your sorrow all the space and shelter in yourself that is its due, for if everyone bears grief honestly and courageously, the sorrow that now fills the world will abate. But if you do instead reserve most of the space inside you for hatred and thoughts of revenge-from which new sorrows will be born for others-then sorrow will never cease in this world. And if you have given sorrow the space it demands, then you may truly say: life is beautiful and so rich.’

My thoughts…

There is absolutely nothing I can say to make this book sound and look more special than it is. It is a gem. A pearl. A treasure. Utterly, utterly precious. Anne Booth has taken a difficult topic and turned it into such a delicate piece of children’s literature. At just under 3 years of age, my daughter doesn’t quite understand the depth of the message but she loves feasting on the stunning illustrations and describe what Sadness is doing. There is a picture in the book of the boy taking a cup of tea to his Sadness and the other day I caught my little one pretending to make tea for her baby and Sadness. Precious, I told you!


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