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297 of 300 people found the following review helpful
I have a fairly extensive collection of books about death and grieving for "my" children, which we have used for the loss of
family, friends and pets. But this is the only book I regularly give copies of to families. The "de-personalized" way it talks about death, the universality of its text combined with soft drawings and repetition are very soothing. This is NOT a book about emotions or stages of death. (If you are looking for one of those Everett Anderson's Goodbye is a positive place to start.)
This is a book about the rhythm of life and death for all creatures, for everything that is born. One of the best parts of the book is its emphasis on what a lifetime is, and how it is framed by birth and death, and that inbetween those "markers" is what is important. It explains that different creatures have different life spans, and that this aspect of nature is neither fair nor unfair. It simply is.
I do not restrict this book to times when a child is grieving,
I include it in our regular reading rotation, so that the children see death as a normal part of life experiences. Death is so emotionally charged, especially for the grown ups, that having a calm book is especially worthwhile. When a child is actually grieving balancing the more "intense" books with this soothing one, does wonders.
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174 of 176 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2003
After losing my wife (33 years old) two years ago, this was one of the books that was recommended to me .... and I am glad I took the recommendation. This is a GREAT book for explaining the subject of lifetimes to children, especially in the 3-5 year old range.
What is great about this book and something I didn't realize at the time was that lifetimes didn't have to only related to death of people. EVERYTHING has a lifetime and it has helped my daughter in many ways. A couple months ago, when my daughter's balloon popped and she was very sad, she said "Dad, I guess my balloon's lifetime is over", and then she went to throw it away. She was sad but understood the concept that all things, living and unliving, have a lifetime. We still use the concepts today on a regular basis, and she still likes to read the book as well.
HIGHLY recommended, even for those children that haven't had to deal with true loss or death yet ... at least in my opinion.
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91 of 98 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2004
I heard about this book and decided to take a look before I needed it. I know that eventually my child will start asking questions about death, and I'd like to know what resources are available. I was particularly drawn to this title because it can be tailored to a variety of religious belief systems. I disagree with a previous poster who stated that this book teaches that there is no afterlife. The way I read it, the book doesn't take a stand either way. Being "alive" on earth is not the same thing as "eternal life" in the religions I am familiar with. No religion I know of denies that earthly bodies are alive and then they die.
I like the fact that this book compares all types of organisms from plants to animals to people. The concept of a life span ties it all together. What is "in between" the beginning and ending of a life is living. I appreciate that this book emphasizes the in between, and therefore strikes a positive note.
I would caution against using this book as a regular picture book for toddlers and older preschoolers because it may actually introduce the idea of death before a child is able to comprehend the explanation. However, I think it's an excellent choice for a child who is asking about death or who has recently experienced the loss of a pet, friend, or relative.
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66 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2000
This book is beautifully illustrated, and it explains the facts of life and death in a very direct and unsentimental way: all creatures have a lifetime, then they die. The book discusses the lifetimes of different living creatures, from insects who only live a few days, to large mammals who live many years. It describes people as living for "sixty or seventy years, sometimes even more." That is a little scary for a child whose grandparents are already way past those ages and still in great health. "Lifetimes" explains the concepts of lifespan and death, but does not offer comfort for those who fear death or are grieving. I recommend the book "Gentle Willow" for those who want a gentler, more comforting story, that is no less true to fact.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2004
This book would be effective for grief therapy and for teaching about life cycles. It specifically answers the question: What is a lifetime?
My daughter, age 4, had a lot of questions about death. She was most especially interested in finding out when her "dying day" would be. This book seemed to help her understand that everyone's lifetime is special to them. I wanted her to understand that because someone else died it doesn't mean her death is imminent. A common fear among the young.
An exquisitely illustrated and plainly written book, it speaks clearly to the children about a complicated subject. I highly recommend it for all home and school libraries for ages three and up. It should be used as part of a comprehensive set of books on biological and familial concepts as it is not meant to answer all of a child's questions on life cycles, grief, death or dying.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Knowing and working with many young children, I have come to appreciate that there are certain concepts that we, as adults, tend to take for granted as being somehow obvious or, if you will, self-evident. One of these is the inevitability of death. Trying to explain death to a child - particularly to a very young ( 2 - 4 year old) child can be an exasperating experience for even the most well meaning parent, teacher or concerned adult. Luckily, there is a growing body of literature, written to be looked at while being read to youngsters that simplify the essential concept sown to a level that can be understood by the child and will suffice until the child lets us know, through their ever more sophisticated questions, that they need more information. I have a collection of such books that I use and recommend to parents, where death has been a recent event in the family, for use with their children. This book by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen, is the one I most frequently recommend for use with this youngest group of children.

Each page contains a minimum of words with an illustration on the facing page - of which there are only about 20. Immediately, by design, the most common adult well-intentioned error is defeated: that involving giving into the propensity to talk TOO MUCH; to use TOO MANY WORDS; to try to explain the idea in a way that the young child is no where near ready to grasp yet. The initial page and illustration present an exemplary example. On the right side is a simple, hand-drawn illustration of a bird's nest containing two eggs. On the facing (left side) page, the following is the entirety of the text:

There is a beginning

And there is an ending for everything

That is alive.

In between is living.

The rest of the text and illustrations bring this same basic idea home to kids via references all manner of living things. Sea creatures, plants, people, birds, trees and insects among them. On the fourth page across from a drawing of a crab:

Nothing that is alive

Goes on living forever.

How long it lives depends upon

What it is and what happens

While it is living.

The next-to-last page:

So, no matter how long they are,

Or how short, lifetimes are really

All the same.

They have beginnings, and endings,

And there is living in between.

Young children cannot be expected to understand death as we adults do - or believe we do. The decomposition of bodies, the questions of life-after-death, issues involving illness and disease: all of these are beyond the scope of conceptual understanding of the average pre-schooler. Keep it simple until more complex questions are forthcoming from the child. This book is a good first step in what is apt to be a prolonged, increasingly complex process.

If sadness should befall your family (or a pet, or a friend, etc.) and you have a pre-schooler , take a look at this book and ask yourself if it might not be a good place to begin explaining things to YOUR child. I would certainly use it for mine.
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52 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2000
This book is direct in its approach to addressing life and death. It is very matter of fact. As I read and re-read this book, I had an empty feeling. I felt that the book was simple and was a good resource for adult and children but I would need to couple it with other books that would elicit more feelings. In and of itself, I was left with an understanding of life having a beginning and an end. The life lived was different for every living thing including human beings. As I ended to story, something was missing. It felt more clinical and scientific. It did not address the emotional component or the spiritual components of life and death very well. I feel it will be a good reference and a good addition to our library, but would also offer other books to be read in addition to this one.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2000
This book is wonderful for small children. I purchased it for my children (ages 7 and 5) when we found out that their great grandmother was dying. It is very nicely illustrated and does not have any particular biblical beliefs that might be confussing to a child. It just explains that things begin and things end and the in between part is life. My children love this book
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 1997
Lifetimes is a gently beautiful introduction to death and grief for young children. Ingpen and Mellonie show death as a natural part of the process of living for all creatures. They also affirm the reality and importance of death's sadness, thus opening the way to healing.

This book is among the most popular choices of staff and grieving families at the hospice where I work. Every child enjoys the book's soothing text and lovely pictures. Even parents whose children have not yet experienced a loss might want to go ahead and get this book to help their children begin to build an understanding of the cycle of life.

If your own heart is breaking, reading Lifetimes to a child will bring a little comfort to you, too.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2011
This is a good book in many ways, but with a few issues that may prevent me from sharing it with my children.

I like the straight-forward unsentimental approach to the topic. However at one point it states that people live for "sixty or seventy years, sometimes even more." As another reviewer noted, "That is a little scary for a child whose grandparents are already way past those ages and still in great health." It's also a bit off the mark, given that life expectancy in the US is close to 80, so 70 or 80 years might be more accurate...but I would have avoided putting a number on it myself.

I also agree with other reviewers that the picture of the dead butterfly, followed by one of a live butterfly of the same species is confusing. And, finally, the splinter-removal picture is kind of scary and the child has a haunted look on his face.

I recommend the book "In a Nutshell," by Joseph Anthony.
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