Grace lives next door to old Mr Milligan and his goat Charlie. They are the best of friends. But when Mr Milligan's goat dies, everything changes. Will Grace be able to help her friend overcome his sadness? Grace and Mr Milligan is a heart-warming story of grief, love and the healing power of friendship.
Grace and Mr Milligan (Caz Goodwin, illus by Pip
Kruger, Marshall Cavendish)
February 2023 Books+Publishing
Young Grace, old Mr
Milligan from next door and his goat Charlie regularly enjoy spending time
together in their gardens and at the nearby beach, happily munching on fruit
grown by Mr Milligan. Charlie, however, is ageing, and soon slides peacefully
out of their lives. This is a delicate, wholesome, love-filled story about
losing a friend and grieving, but it is also filled with joy—in the
uncomplicated happiness of Grace’s friendship with her neighbors, and also in
Pip Kruger’s lively and vivid illustrations, reminiscent of a bright Alison
Lester world rendered with hints of Scandinavian folk art. Caz Goodwin handles
Charlie’s death with tenderness and simplicity, keeping the event itself
undramatic yet without euphemizing it (Mr Milligan and Charlie quietly spend
Charlie’s final days together until ‘Mr Milligan woke to a lonely day’).
Grace’s grief is tempered by her concern for Mr Milligan, and as time passes,
she helps to bring gladness back into his days as they begin to enjoy bowls of
fruit together again, delighting in shared memories of Charlie. Picture books
that set out to introduce and normalize death for young children so often
sacrifice their narrative quality in trying to be sensitive and edifying,
but Grace and Mr Milligan doesn’t fall into this trap.
It’s moving and enjoyable, and will work just as well for a resource in
handling death and grief as it will for everyday story-time sessions.
Books+Publishing reviewer: Anica Boulanger-Mashberg, an editor and writer, is a
bookseller at The Hobart Bookshop. Books+Publishing is Australia’s number-one source of pre-publication book reviews.