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The Hare-Shaped Hole

Book Synopsis

The Hare-Shaped Hole is a beautiful, touching, and poignant picture book which gently explores themes of grief and loss.

Hertle and Bertle were always a pair, though one was a turtle and one was a hare. They were utterly buddies, and best friends forever and whenever you looked, you would find them together… until quite unexpectedly… the end came.

When Hertle disappears for good, Bertle can only see a Hertle-shaped hole where his friend should be. He pleads with it, get angry with it, but the hole still won’t bring his Hertle back.

It seems like hope is lost… until Gerda the kindly bear finds him. She explains that he must fill the hole with his memories of Hertle. And slowly… Bertle begins to feel a little bit better.

Powerful and moving text from children’s author and poet John Dougherty is paired perfectly with warm illustrations from the wonderfully talented Thomas Docherty in a thoughtful and sensitive approach to this difficult topic.

This moving picture book can be used as part of a gentle conversation about death and grief with children.

Our Review Panel says...

Bertle and Hertle (one a turtle, one a hare) are the best of friends and are always found together, having fun, playing and helping each other. That is, until one day, when Hertle disappears, leaving only a black hole where he should have been.

Bertle looks for his friend everywhere, getting angry at the hole and pleading with it, until he eventually lets his sadness at the missing Hertle surround him. Luckily for Bertle, the wise and kindly Gerda the bear understands what he is feeling and encourages the turtle to fill the hole with all the amazing memories he has of Hertle and their time together.

The Hare-Shaped Hole is a beautiful, touching and poignant book that accurately depicts what it feels like to lose someone or something very important to you. The heart-warming ending, full of colour, could bring the most stoic of readers to tears. As someone who has both lost a parent this year and supported a child losing their own, this book was particularly on-point and I have yet to read another which so accurately depicts the feelings of grief and memories of loved ones.

I would highly recommend this as a book for children who are experiencing loss  – and to adults too! I shared the book with several colleagues, all of whom read the book cover-to-cover in one sitting, many of them stating they wished there were books like this when they were young. The illustrations are beautiful, highlighting the feelings and emotions of our characters. The ‘hare-shaped hole’ changing in colour is particularly effective. The story is written in rhyme, which helps to keep the gentle tone throughout. A beautiful story of love, loss and grief.

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The Hare-Shaped Hole

the hare shaped hole

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