Goodbye Mog – Judith Kerr

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Judith Kerr is probably best known for The Tiger Who Came to Tea. 

She has an interesting, slightly abrupt writing style which is endearing. I used to think that this was because English is not her native language, but having corresponded with people from Germany whose English is far better than mine, I very much doubt it. It may be a result of how as a child she had to pick up different languages almost as a survival trait when her family fled Germany in the second world war. (If you’re interested her account of this is in her book When Hitler stole pink rabbit). However it may just be her ‘voice’ and I’m reading far too much into it.

For some reason, Goodbye Mog is a great favourite of both my kids. They’ve taken it out at the library countless times and every time the librarian draws in a breath, looks slightly worried and says, “er… this one’s a bit sad…” to which I give a helpless shrug and reply, “I know, but they like it.”

There are a number of ‘Mog’ stories, but this is the one where she dies. Cheery subject, I know. But it’s also a gentle look at grief for young children, showing how it’s alright to cry and to miss someone and also how over time it’s natural to move on. You still miss them and remember them, but it’s ok to be happy too, and it’s important for children to understand this before they start to feel unnecessary guilt over ordinary events.
The story follows Mog’s ghost as she watches her family grieving for her and their bumbling adjustments when a new kitten comes into the house. Mog’s acerbic comments keep it refreshingly upbeat and it is Mog, ultimately who sorts it all out for everyone, (not that she gets any thanks for it of course).

It’s a lovely story, gently done and, for some reason, very popular with my kids.

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