Title: If You Were Here
Author: Elisabeth Sophia
Illustrator: Anita Bagdi
Published: August 2021
Publisher: Little Steps Publishing
Readership: Children’s Picturebook
“If you were here I’d hug you tight,
If you were here I’d say,
‘You are my very bestest friend.’
I wish you could have stayed.”
If You Were Here is a beautiful rhyming story for little ones who have lost someone important to them. Through a little boy’s journey of loss to hope, If You Were Here shows us how we are always and forever connected to those we cherish.
A moving story with universal themes of love, loss, resilience and family, written from the unique viewpoint of a child for a touching and relatable perspective.
This story is for children, their parents and loved ones, but is also suitable to be used in educational and therapeutic settings to teach children about the feelings surrounding loss by navigating through the process together with the child narrator.
This tender story is brought to life with magical illustrations that take the reader into the child narrator’s imagination and on his emotional journey of healing with him – from sadness, to hope and light.
I was introduced to this book by my sister, who leant it to me for review. When I was reading up on the book on the author’s website, I came across the ‘story behind the book,’ in which Elisabeth Sophia explains that the story was first written when her mother passed away.
If You Were Here is a beautiful book that celebrates a life lived, but also lost, and the grief that comes with it, along with the healing of that grief. A young boy loses his grandmother and tries to make sense of those feelings that come with feeling like you’re missing something. It’s a gentle story that, while dealing with a heavy subject like grief and loss, also has a great deal of hope in it. Children are remarkably resilient and it’s books like these that help them process complex feelings and experiences, and as such is a great book to add to any collection.
Alongside the lovely, lyrical narrative, the book is supported by gorgeous illustrations that enhance the text. From moments of sadness to those of hope, the colours encapsulate the moments and draw the reader in.