How could I not love Ulf Nilsson’s All the Dear Little Animals? To begin with, anything illustrated by Eva Eriksson is automatically extremely loveable. And the story of three children who hunt out dead animals so they can bury them is also rather sweet, don’t you think?
It starts with a bumblebee, which died of natural causes, and its death causes the poetic narrator and his friend Esther to arrange a funeral for it. Our narrator is good at coming up with poems for the ceremony.
And then Esther’s little brother Puttie discovers what they are up to, and he cries. He cries so well that he becomes their official crier. Puttie – unlike his older sister – finds death rather upsetting. He can see that when he dies, their parents will be very distraught.
Esther, on the other hand, avoids telling him that the most likely scenario might be the other way round. This, presumably, is for the adult who reads with their young child to decide to discuss. Mortality, and how it makes you feel.
Once they have hunted out a good many corpses, dug graves, read poems and cried, they are satisfied.
Tomorrow they will do something else.
(Translated by Julia Marshall, this is not a new book. Not even in translation. I would have liked the original title to be mentioned, so I didn’t have to Google it; Alla döda små djur.)