Enchanted Lion Books ISBN 9781592701872
PRI K-Grade 3 Rating: 4
Cry, Heart, But Never Break, by award-winning author Glenn Ringtved, uses Death as a character to explain why dying is both inevitable and good. Four children, living with their aging grandmother, must face this reality when Death arrives at their door. One child asks Death why their grandmother must die, and Death responds with a story about two sets of twins, Sorrow and Grief, and Joy and Delight.
Through Death’s narrative, Ringtved suggests that joy and delight cannot fully be appreciated outside of the context of their counterparts, sorrow and grief. He then parallels this with life and death, suggesting that life is not truly itself, and cannot be fully appreciated, without death. The character, Death, speaks the title phrase, “Cry, Heart, but never break,” to the children. This phrase captures the essence of Ringtved’s message: that mourning is good and right, but that death is not entirely or essentially bad.
Charlotte Pardi’s detailed and vivid illustrations help set the tone for Ringtved’s narrative, adding to the reading experience with colors and tones that reflect the mood being depicted. For example, the scenes with Joy and Delight are bright and playful, while scenes regarding Death, Grief, or Sorrow, are gray and subdued.
Though it is often true that good things can be more fully appreciated in the context of their negative counterparts, the author presents a secular view of death and a pragmatic approach to teaching the young about this difficult subject. He suggests that death itself is a part of what makes life meaningful and good.