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Children's Fiction Death & Dying

The Funeral

illustrated by Matt James

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Apr 2018
Death & Dying, New Experience, Emotions & Feelings
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2018
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2018
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 7
  • Grade: p to 2
  • Reading age: 4 to 7


A New York Times / New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Book
New York Public Library Best Books for Kids
Ezra Jack Keats Award Honor Winner

Norma and her parents are going to her great-uncle Frank’s funeral, and Norma is more excited than sad. She is looking forward to playing with her favorite cousin, Ray, but when she arrives at the church, she is confronted with rituals and ideas that have never occurred to her before. While not all questions can be answered, when the day is over Norma is certain of one thing — Uncle Frank would have enjoyed his funeral.

This sensitive and life-affirming story will lead young readers to ask their own questions about life, death and how we remember those who have gone before us.

Key Text Features
speech bubbles

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.

With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).

Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)

About the author


  • Winner, Ezra Jack Keats Award Honor
  • Short-listed, Elizabeth-Mrazik Cleaver Award
  • Commended, New York Times / New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children‚Äôs Book
  • Commended, New York Public Library Best Books for Kids

Editorial Reviews

In his first outing as author, Canadian artist James examines the way the funeral of a distant relative feels to a child. . . . [the story] traces with a big heart the way she makes sense of this puzzling event.

Publisher's Weekly

Witnessing the acceptance of varied reactions to death and the elements of memorial will help children prepare for or reflect upon their first funeral. A notable portrayal.

School Library Journal

[A] book that gives young viewers a glimpse of the funeral experience but tacitly champions their right to process it in their own way.

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Matt James’s (I Know Here) quiet, child’s-eye view of a funeral, with all its mysterious rituals and traditions, is a pitch-perfect introduction to a sometimes-difficult theme. . . . [A] graceful, beautifully illustrated picture book about death, customs and emotions.

Shelf Awareness

Enveloping and original, James’ authorial debut offers an honest exploration of a difficult and delicate subject. Exceptional.

Kirkus Reviews

James uniquely and playfully captures the particularities of a child’s perspective.


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