Up the Mountain Path by Marianne Dubuc is a picture book that deals with death in a very “side manner” by not actually saying the character dies. That makes it accessible to all ages and can be used for not just “the death of X” (pet, grandparent, friend, etc.) but for loss and the “circle of life” comes out instead. The badger teaches the cat and then the cat teaches the rabbit. The “grandparent/grandchild” relationship in in play.
I wish I could do half points as this is a 4.5 The story is sweet, but sad (the adult will know what is going to happen) and that makes the ending obvious to the older reader. The illustrations are delightful. They are simple, with the right amount of detail and not over powerful colors. They are not realistic to distraction, but also not too cartoonish. I am just not “jumping up and down” with my liking of it. Something was missing. Maybe I wanted it longer? Maybe I wanted to see more of the kitten’s story? I am not sure. I spoke with a coworker and she said she liked it as it would make a great read-aloud. She liked how the illustrations showed the path and you can follow it as you read along.
However, with no question in my mind this is a book I will be recommending. I am not just sure yet who to give it to. I mean you cannot ask a grandparent, “Are you dying and want to give your grandchild a really nice book about life, death and the circle of life?” Or a parent: “You want to teach your child about death?” If the adult is looking for a way to softly introduce the subject it will work. And I think you might be able to read this to older students in the classroom setting. However, it does not lend itself to easily being the first book you think of when you want/need to recommend a book.