Helping Kids with Loss: After Charlotte’s Mom Died Review

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susannah Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review and related resources for parents, teachers and children.

A couple of quick notes first:

1.      Remember that tomorrow is June 16th – Save The Bookstores Day.  Did you read Tara Lazar’s great post about this:, I have to work on Saturday, but on Sunday, I’ll be at one of the Indie bookstores here in Colorado Springs, Poor Richards.  They are one of the local bookstores that has copies of Show Me How for sale…if you haven’t seen the amazing review Kirsten did, please click over to her blog, Creating Curious Kids.  Keeping children occupied with fun-filled educational self-esteem building activities is a wonderful way to spend the summer!  Do you know some parents who would appreciate a book that provides hundreds of quick and easy activities that use stuff they probably have around the house?  Please keep Show Me How in mind.

2.      Sunday is a very special day as well…June 17th is Father’s Day!  There are so many wonderful fathers and father figures out there…this day is for all of you!  I have to make a special shout-out to my son-in-law who is an amazing hands-on dad…not only does he play ball and take walks with his son, he also never misses being part of the daily bedtime routine, reading stories and overseeing the brushing of teeth.  When my daughter has to travel for business, Erik never falters and is mom and dad at those times.  I’m also very proud of my son who has twins who are almost seven.  From the time they were born, he has shared in EVERY moment…feeding, changing diapers, singing them to sleep…now they all ice-skate and play chess together.

My pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is in honor of those dads who really step up to the plate.


 After Charlotte’s Mom Died

Written by Cornelia Spelman

Illustrated by Judith Friedman

Publisher: Albert Whitman Co (1996)

Ages: 5 and up


Grief/loss, family, emotions


When five-year old Charlotte’s mother dies in a car accident, the little girl has many feelings she is not comfortable expressing to her dad, even though she loves him very much.  She worries about going to sleep because an aunt told her that dying was like going to sleep.  She is angry and sad and scared, although on the outside, she still looks the same.  After an incident at school alerts her father to the fact that Charlotte is not dealing well with the death of her mother, he decides to go with Charlotte to see a therapist.  The therapist helps them to talk about how they feel and they realize that although they will continue to feel sad about the death of Charlotte’s mother, they can find happiness in life.

Why do I like this book

The death of a close loved one is always difficult…to lose one’s mother at a very young age is earthshattering!  This book tenderly addresses this issue…the illustrations are soft, the message of the text is comforting and empowering.  I especially love the caring and practical advice the author gives to parents and other child caregivers in the book’s foreward:

  • listen carefully to the child
  • acknowledge his fears and feelings without judging
  • offer assurances that there will always be people to love him and care for him
  • offer hope for future happiness

Related Activities:

Memories of special people, places and experiences are extremely important for all of us.  Help your child start a box of treasured mementos now!  The boxes in the pictures below were actually made as Valentine’s Day mailboxes by the people I work with, so each of these boxes has a slit for Valentine’s Day cards to be inserted into…your child’s treasure box won’t have the slit.  I was so impressed with the effort and creativity of these adults, I wanted to share some of the boxes with all of you.


Treasure Box Shoe Box

You will need: One shoe box with lid, paper to cover the box (construction paper, gift wrap, shelf paper), scissors, and glue or tape.

1.      Cut the paper your child has selected to cover the box.  You will need two pieces, one for the box and one for the lid.  Important tip: if you use painting paper, your child can decorate it with vegetable prints, sponge painting or pictures cut from magazines or greeting cards.

2.      Carefully fit the paper around the outside of the shoebox and glue or tape in place.  Do the same with the lid.

3.      Make a label to put on the box, for example: EMILY’S TREASURED MEMENTOS or JOSH’S BOX OF MEMORIES.

My box had pictures of my family, all around the sides.  That might be a nice idea for a child using pictures of family and friends.

A great  pirate treasure chest here at

Some more treasure chest ideas here.

Great website to help kids dealing with death at

Some helpful tips for talking with children about the death of a parent at

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever - Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (PomegranateKids, March 15, 2019), PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, Feb 13, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, May 1, 2019); MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, Spring 2020); FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020) picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my young grandson.

Posted on June 15, 2012, in children's picture books, Crafting with Children, Father's Day, Kirsten Larson: Creating Curious Kids, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Poor Richards Bookstore, Reading with Children, Save The Bookstores Day, Show Me How! and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. An excellent sounding book on a difficult, but vital topic. Thank you, Vivian!


    • It is a difficult topic, Beth…and for me, it is so much easier when you have a great book that addresses the problem…the parent and child can be more relaxed and less “on the spot”. 🙂   


  2. Oh, Vivian, I’m always looking for good grief/loss resources for my counseling with children. Thanks for the lead on Charlotte’s story! I’ve found that books have such a healing effect on kids who are traveling through the hurt of losing someone special.


  3. I love that this book addresses the topic of the loss of a parent directly. It must be very comforting for children dealing with this impossible situation to have a book that helps them cope.


  4. Thank you, Vivian, for this wonderful resource. Again, I feel so lucky to have your blog as a resource. And congrats to raising wonderful children who have become or married men who are wonderful dads.


  5. Sounds like a sensitive grief book. Haven’t seen this one before. And, I’m always looking. Beautiful resource. Will have to check it out.


  6. Just love the idea of the treasure box! I am always impressed with writers who can address difficult issues with grace. This sounds like a wonderful book. Thanks, Vivian!


  7. Love the treasure box idea. Sounds like this is real and sensitive about a difficult topic.


    • Thanks, Joanna…glad you liked it! The treasure box is a great activity that can be used in many different ways…Mother’s Day gift, birthday gift for a friend…most kids love collecting little mementos and squirreling them away in special places.:)


  8. Wonderful resources, especially the idea for the treasure box. I like that the book points out the well intentioned mistake that adults can make by telling children death is like sleep. It sounds like a lovely, gentle book on a difficult topic.


    • I know, Heather…how scary is that to be told that death is like sleep…makes a kid NEVER want to go to bed! It is a sweet book…and I especially love the way it shows how the father was able to open up and express his sadness as well.


  9. Sensitive books on this topic are so necessary and there aren’t all that many of them – I think they’re VERY hard to write well. It’s not a subject I would want to tackle. Thanks for adding this to our list. As much as we would wish it otherwise, there are always kids out there who need books like this so much. And as always, your activity is perfect 🙂


    • I appreciate your lovely comment, Susanna! I’m so happy to be able to contribute to your PPBF page…so much more chance that the books and activities will be viewed by many and much more opportunity they will be of help. 🙂


  10. Thank you, Vivian. With children, books are often a wonderful and softer way of dealing with hard topics.


  11. I already feel sad for Charlotte. 😦 I should get this book. It has an important message!


  12. Wow Vivian! What a book on such a sensitive subject. I am in awe of writers who can tackle these areas. I have a story I’m writing that deals with Mom dying but sen through the eyes of baby bird. We’ll see how it goes. Great addition and super activity. 🙂


    • Thanks, Robyn…glad you like the PPBF pick and the activity.  I’ll be excited to hear more about your book..this is a subject that doesn’t have many books for little ones…the baby bird sounds like a great main character!  


  13. Hi Vivian, Finally got to the letter P. I know you probably gave up on me… 🙂


    • You know, Eliz, the only thing I’ve ever wondered is how you can post such amazing, full of value articles on a daily basis on one of the best blogs I’ve ever encountered! As much as I love your comments, I hope you never feel compelled to do so if time doesn’t permit…believe me, I do understand how overwhelming the whole blogging life can get…at times overtaking the other life we lead. 🙂 🙂


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