Reviews /

The Hare-Shaped Hole

Authored by John Dougherty
Illustrated by Thomas Docherty
Published by Quarto Publishing

Tagged , , ,

The Hare-Shaped Hole is a warm and gentle exploration of loss and finding a way to accept the new reality of life when someone isn’t there anymore. It begins:

Bertle and Hertle were always a pair

though one was a turtle and one was a hare. 

This unlikely pairing are the best of friends finding that traits that might divide them actually complement and they enjoy the best of times until the unthinkable happens and one day Hertle Hare vanishes leaving only a dark empty hole in the air. All Bertle wants is his friend to come back and fill the emptiness that follows him around. He is angry then sad and has so many questions that Hertle is not there to answer. Luckily Gerda Bear is on hand to help him look back at the happy times which cannot be taken away. As Bertle speaks of his friendship, the hole slowly fills until it is bursting with a dazzling array of joyous colour reflecting the wonderful nature of their friendship.

This is a warm hug of a book which normalises conversation about grief and what happens when someone dies. Children can be left confused and uncertain around death because adults are keen to shield them from the sadness. The Hare-Shaped Hole‘s message about the way that memories of the happy times you have shared can never be taken away manifests itself with the colourful filling in of Hare’s outline. There is no happy ever after – Bertle’s smile at the end is a sad one – but this reflects the reality of learning to live in a different way, without the person you have loved so dearly. This is crucial to help children understand their complex emotions but it is done with a gentle touch. It is never stated that Hare has died and the reader could interpret the reasons for Hertle vanishing however they choose. The Hare-Shaped Hole is a lovely book for younger children to share with a trusted adult could comfort as well as a way to begin a conversation about the loss of a loved one.