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The Hare-Shaped Hole by John Dougherty and Thomas Docherty – Book Review

Mar 28th 2023

"Now - take your memories home. They'll help you whenever you're sad and alone. From the first of the year till the last of December, keep them close by your side. And always: remember."

This beautifully illustrated and poetically written book frames the stages of grief through the experiences of Bertle and his friend Hertle. From building up the image of a true friendship in the first section of the book, we then feel the full force of Bertle’s grief when he wakes up to find his friend gone. Instead of his companion by his side, he has an empty black hole.

For the next section of the text, Bertle displays the different emotions associated with grief: anger, shock, sadness and despair, and it is only when the kindly Gerda helps him that he finds a way through.

With Gerda’s support, Bertle starts to remember his friend, and eventually, the black hole is filled with happy memories. These cherished memories will keep Bertle company and his friend will never be far from his side.

Where Hertle has gone is never explained but the text allows pupils to explore similar feelings whether this is through death or for other reasons, such as divorce or relocation. The loss of a cherished family member or friend and associated separation can bring about feelings of grief that may be hard to express for children young and old, but this book demonstrates it in such a powerful way.

We all need to fill our hare-shaped holes by remembering those no longer with us and keeping their memories alive.

Schools do a wonderful job with supporting pupils emotionally, and the events of the past few years have affected many families. This book would be a recommended addition to the classroom to help pupils understand their feelings and to ensure that those no longer by their side are never forgotten.

The Hare-Shaped Hole

ISBN: 978-0711276055

Frances Lincoln Children’s Books


Buy the book on Amazon here.

See more from writer John Dougherty on his website here and more from illustrator Thomas Docherty on his website here.