Posted in picture books

Processing grief with The Boy and the Gorilla

The Boy and the Gorilla, by Jackie Azúa Kramer/Illustrated by Cindy Derby, (Oct. 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9780763698324

Ages 4-8

A boy’s mother has died. He imagines a gorilla talking to him, working with him through his loss and how to reach out to his father. The boy and the gorilla talk about what happens when we die and where we go; how to feel; how to go on. The boy finds his voice and tells his father that he misses Mom, and the two hold one another, moving on together. It’s hard to read this book with a dry eye. The storytelling is so very gentle, so careful with the reader, and the watercolors pack such beauty and emotion, creating an aching, incredible experience. Add The Boy and the Gorilla to your grief and loss collection, along with Some Days by María Wernicke. It’s an important collection to keep updated and know when to hand them to kids and caregivers.

The Boy and the Gorilla has starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, and the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.


I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading ( I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (, where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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