So, where are we going exactly? is a beautifully illustrated story book aimed at 6 to 10 year-olds, which addresses death as part of the cycle of the natural world.
It provides a range of lively characters and an engaging story designed to help facilitate conversations between adults and children about death.
The book explores some of the challenging emotions and fears that children may experience when someone dies, and responds in a gentle, honest and up-beat way to children’s curiosity about death and dying.
Reflective, educational and joyful elements are mixed together here. Non-religious, it is respectful of all cultures, norms and rituals. It celebrates the link between the human and the natural world, and between the past and the present.
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All proceeds go to the The Friends of Sun Rising.
The book is priced at £6.99.
UK Postage and packing is £2.00 for 1-3 copies and £3.50 for 4-6 copies.
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More About the Book
About the Story
When five year old Katy and her teenage brother Ben accompany their grandparents on a visit to a natural burial ground, it raises a number of anxieties and questions. Through the conversations they have with the people they meet, they come to understand different aspects of death and bereavement.
The story and its illustrations are based on Sun Rising, and focuses on nature and the outdoors, which makes it appropriate for those of any faith or none, of any background or family situation.
Why this Book?
So, Where Are We Going Exactly? developed from an idea first proposed by Pamela Bramble, one of the Friends of Sun Rising, and was discussed at an AGM some years ago. After the death of her beloved mother, Ethel Shepherd, Pam’s family had found it difficult to explain to Ethel’s many grandchildren what had happened, and why – and to accommodate their different enquiries and emotions, especially on top of their own grief.
Finding appropriate books to help them was difficult. Pam knew that her mother’s mission was to help people learn and understand, and felt that it would be a fitting tribute to her to be the inspiration for a book set at Sun Rising, a place she had visited and enjoyed exactly a year before her own burial there.
About the Authors
Simon Bean is an animator who lives in Nottingham. His involvement with the book project was motivated by losing a son who is buried at Sun Rising, and having to explain issues around death to his other children.
Barbara Crowther had a long and varied career in teaching and other academic areas of communication, the final two decades at Wolverhampton University. She is a fair-weather walker, gardener and birder, and an all-weather reader, writer and community facilitator. She lives in Leamington Spa.
Shaun McKenna is a an award-winning playwright, lyricist and screenwriter with four West End shows to his credit. He writes across several genres and has worked extensively for Radio 4, recent productions including China Towns, The Forsytes and Home Front. He lives in West London.
Jo Price spent most of her professional life teaching and working with young children and teachers in early years and primary education. She makes and exhibits ceramics and enjoys singing, reading, community activities and most of all, being ‘Nonna’ to her three lovely granddaughters. She lives in Combroke, Warwickshire with her husband, Merlin.
About the Illustrator
Philip Bannister has been an illustrator for over 35 years, enjoying work from a huge variety of sources including Conde Nast, National Geographic, Goodwood Revival, The Queens Aniversary Prizes, Royal Army Medical Corps Museum, Mary Portas, Country Life, and involvement in exhibitions of his book illustrations for the Folio Society at the British Library and V&A Museum.
The book was conceived in the Spring of 2015. Several interested and committed people contributed to the project in many ways, but special thanks are due to the following:
Marianne Westwood who was an important contributor through the early stages of producing the book.
Lizzy Bean who came up with the title and shared her insights into young children’s behaviour.
Chris Baker at KMS Litho, Hook Norton, Oxon, for patience and help through various phases of the production process.
David Orr and Emma Restall Orr for their support and sustained belief in the project, and for David’s IT skills which have created this web page.
"I love the book and hope it is hugely successful. It could almost be my story as I have taken my granddaughters there with my son to get them used to the idea that I will be happy there when I die. My 8 year old said I'd be like the compost they make!" - Jane Smith
"I've just read your book. It's beautiful. I'm sure it will be wonderful for many people at a difficult time, but it's lovely at any time." - Hazel Blenkinsop
"Just wanted to drop you an email to let you know we have received your wonderful books and have put them in our library for our children to read." - Jessica Roitman, Grief Encounter – supporting bereaved children and young people
"This wonderful thought - provoking book, so beautifully illustrated, is an absolute gem for individuals, families and anyone working in bereavement. Its clear no-nonsense style is a springboard to discuss difficult issues in an engaging, open and practical way. It also shines a light on the different ways both children and adults might speak, behave and react at such an emotional time. A much needed resource - THANK YOU!" - Helen Gunton - Retired GP and bereavement counsellor
"Absolutely beautiful, brilliant drawings and text. Just wish we had such a place here in Ireland so I could invite my grandkids to enact the story. Every parent and grandparent should have a copy of this book to help them have the conversation." - Trish Fitzpatrick
"Mary and I have both read your book this afternoon. It’s terrific! It answers so many questions in a very calm and caring way without being controversial. I really liked the artwork." - Derek Dwyer
"I just happened to receive a pre-publication copy of this book a few days before conducting a natural burial for a man who left behind a 6 year old daughter. The daughter and her mother were both impressed by the book. Which I think contributed to a relaxed, informal and meaningful funeral. The ceremony ended with an impromptu discussion between the mourners of the merits of the plot and a general agreement that it was a lovely place to be buried. I will be using this book again." - Ian Willox, Humanist Celebrant
"I thought the book was very good and had superb illustrations . There wasn’t anything I would take out or felt missing . Balanced, direct and for many ages. I think my granddaughters, 8 and 6, would be captivated by it, each at her own level. Compliments to all." - Marianne Tencate, the Netherlands
"Written in a way that would make it good for adult and child to read together, this book could also just as well be read by a child on his or her own. One of its great virtues is that it does not avoid the kind of questions that children might well ask.... It’s a book I would recommend. A good book in a good cause. " - Mary Medlicott, storyteller and author (from Mary Medlicott's Storyworks Blog, by kind permission)
"Relating to the human world rather than deflecting the topic through fictional animals, it is gentle and honest about dying, doing a dual job of comforting children and preparing them for difficult emotions … All that, and beautifully illustrated too – a deeply satisfying experience for both the eye and mind." - from a Margaret Egrot's blog, 18 March 2020.
Our Younger Readers say ...
"I liked the book because it sends a comforting message to young ones who will lost people soon. Some of the illustrations act as if they're real and the book shows you can have your coffin made of anything and you can decorate around the grave with whatever you want and you can remember the person in any way you want to. It answers many questions people might have." - Tessa, age 8
"I liked the book because even though the topic was quite sad it was written in a way that made it happy. So instead of fearing death, the grandparents welcomed it. I also liked the pictures, which were well drawn. Overall I enjoyed this book alot and I think it had a really good message." - Theo, age 11