The Boy and The Gorilla

When a young boy is grieving a loss, an imaginary gorilla becomes a part of a gift to learn the power of talking about loss. When this little boy loses his Mother, the gorilla gently goes through the initial stages of grief with him.

It is the day of a young boy’s Mother’s funeral. This young boy is confused by the whole process of his mother being gone, her death, her funeral and the future. When an imaginary gorilla appears, this boy slowly begins to talk about his grief, confusion and hurt about losing his mother. Author Jackie Azua Kramer delicately and honestly highlights the actions of some children during the initial grieving stage of their parent. We watch as this young boy begins to open up to the imaginary gorilla.

The Gorilla and Support

Using a gorilla as an imaginary support friend was a perfect idea. The gorilla, often misunderstood in the media as an aggressive animal, is usually thoughtful and engaged with their pack. A perfect animal to represent healing, this gorilla stands by the young boy as he slowly opens up to talk about his mother. Will he have the strength to speak to his father about his feelings?

Illustrator Cindy Derby highlights certain colors through feelings of the young character. It really helps young readers understand the beginning of the grieving process.

This book is woven together to help children during their beginning stages of grief and to get them to open up to their parent. This beautiful book is important for everyone to read, especially grieving children. It may help young children begin to open up about their impacts of loss of a loved one.

Extra Credit

To all families who have experienced a loss of a loved one, have your children draw a picture of the gorilla being with them as they think about that loved one.

Parents can have open discussions about death and dying as a part of life. Listen to your children and how they perceive it whether they have lost a loved one or not.


Other Great Titles By Candlewick Press

Did you love The Boy and The Gorilla? Here are some other great titles by Candlewick Press to inspire you.

Hat Cat

Little Snowplow Wishes For Snow

Jabari Tries

A Polar Bear In The Snow

In The Half Room

Make Your Mark Coloring Bookish

Smell My Foot!


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