We noticed that #fictionaldeathsIwillnevergetover was trending on Twitter this afternoon, and a few of us in the office had a chat about the deaths in children’s literature that have affected us.
Here are our nominations for most moving fictional deaths in children’s books:
Me: Matthew in Anne of Green Gables, Beth in Good Wives, the mum in A Monster Calls and Manchee in The Knife of Never Letting Go (and I don’t even like dogs much). I’d also mention the mum in Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Millions: despite the fact that she’s dead throughout the book, the moment when Damian meets her and loses her again makes me very sad.
Louise: Tarka in Tarka the Otter
Tom: Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web, Badger in Badger’s Parting Gift, the tree in The Giving Tree… “and Dumbledore, obviously” (at which Camilla shrieked, “Dumbledore DIES?!?!?!”)
Camilla: Ginger in Black Beauty, Mog in Goodbye, Mog, Rue in The Hunger Games
Mary: Bridget in Under the Hawthorne Tree
Imogen: Charlie in Private Peaceful
Kristina: Grandpa in John Burningham’s Grandpa, Callum in Noughts and Crosses
Steph: Jim and Hilda Bloggs in When The Wind Blows
There was debate over Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – but we agreed that though his death was sad, the fact that he’s not, as it turns out, dead for long disqualifies him.
We also discussed Watership Down, but we said that so many rabbits died that we felt a bit desensitised in the end. Still, Hazel is worth a mention.
We then started talking about deaths in children’s books that the writer encourages you not to care about, because they’re villains, or because the tone of the book isn’t one that takes death seriously: these are fictional deaths designed to be got over. They include: Bernard in Not Now Bernard, Aunt Spike and Aunt Sponge in James and the Giant Peach and Voldemort (at which Camilla shrieked, “Voldemort DIES?!?!?!?”). And, of course various wolves and witches and dragons and ogres in various versions of various fairy tales.
So… which deaths in children’s literature can’t you get over… and which don’t bother you at all?