This “what to say” post comes in the form of a children’s book. It is one of the most precious books I’ve read in a long time and its words and illustrations give children, and adults for that matter, comfort and maybe even peace after the death of a loved one.
Last fall on my Facebook page I linked the story of a Hollywood producer whose child had a terrible disease called Batten disease, which is an extremely rare neurodegernative disease for which there is no cure. My childhood best friend emailed me shortly afterward saying that a family where she lives in Memphis had two (out of their three) daughters recently diagnosed with the disease. She shared their blog and their story stayed has with me.
Then a few months later the wife of one of our former ministers shard this same family’s story with me and told me that these precious girls were actually her nieces. It was on her Facebook page that I came across the making of this new book, Voyage to the Star Kingdom, by Anne Riley, a young adult author who was moved to do something for a family facing the unimaginable. Riley, along with her cousin (and illustrator), Amy Grimes, worked on this book and self-published it in a matter of months. The outcome is nothing short of extraordinary.
Without giving the book away, I will tell you that the story is an allegory. The Star King, of course, is Jesus. And after a terrible storm over this one family’s house, he invites the family to his Star Kingdom, with one request: two of the sisters must travel to his kingdom first.
Even though this book was most likely written for the sister that is left behind, the message really speaks to us all and explains, in such a sweet way, why we need not fear being separated from our loved ones until we meet again in heaven. As one reviewer on Amazon put it, this story of redemption is “achingly beautiful.”
Side note: Before I read this book I was hesitant to read it to my children because I didn’t want them to be fearful of dying or of someone else dying. (One of my children is the worrier type). But if you aren’t specifically using this book to explain death, young children will not understand the underlying message (again, it’s an allegory). I read it to all three of my girls and they thoroughly enjoyed it.
Voyage to the Star Kingdom is a paperback book and I think can be enjoyed by ages 4 and all the way up to pre-teens. Honestly, it was a comfort to me even as an adult. If you know a family who has just lost a loved one or is still suffering it years later, this may be a sweet thing to send them.
Proceeds from the book will go to a foundation set up for the family. Please share this post on Facebook as I know more people need to know about this book!
Have you read it? Share in the comments below.
Photos: Stephanie Drenka