The Funeral by Matt James

The Funeral by Matt James
The Funeral by Matt James

today’s children storybook summary is

The Funeral

By Matt James

The takeaway: Through the eyes of a child, a funeral is not an ordinary day. There are many unfamiliar places, people behavior is sober, and the whole day has an unexplained solemnity to it. But the best part of the day is when you get together with your family, thus make it comfortable and welcoming.


Norma is not going to school today, instead she’ll go to Uncle’s Frank funeral. It seems that she hasn’t been to a funeral before and she doesn’t know what to expect, but she’s happy that she’ll see her favorite cousin Ray.

Even if she’d practiced her sad face in the mirror, Norma cannot help but being herself. In the way to the church, she plays with the car’s window, opening it and closing it, until her dad puts a stop to it. The car they are driving has a little flag attached to it that says “Funeral”. But when she tries to read it, Norma just sees the first three letters: FUN. At the church, attending the ceremony with sad adults surrounding her and her cousin Ray, she can stop playing, quietly. Ray, who, by now, has been making numerous trips to the bathroom, asks her if the late Uncle Frank is still a person. They both look at the table where his pictures were displayed.  At last, they are allowed to go outside, much to their parents’ relief. Norma and Ray run out in the church’s backyard where they play in the graveyard, and by the river, and under the trees in blossom.

Soon, it is time to go home. Leaving the church, Norma sees a photo of Uncle Frank, smiling. For her, that is a sign that Uncle Frank would have liked his funeral.


Norma, a school age girl, with black hair, wearing a blue dress; Ray, a younger boy of about 4 or 5 years old; people; Uncle Frank, the deceased uncle.


Matt James is also the illustrator of this book (as a matter of fact, I should have said that Matt James is also the writer, he is being known mostly for his artwork). His depictions are vivid, the colors are bright, and the lines are refined. There is a strange luminosity that emerges on every page.

His technique, very complex, is acrylic and link on masonite, with elements from paper, tape and cardboard, all painted with acrylic.

As for the story, there is as much said in the illustration as in the words of the book. Overall a very compelling picture book.

Theme: Death, loss

Recommended Age: 4 to 8

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Things to Learn

Funeral:  a ceremony for paying respect and saying Goodbye to people that have died.


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