It isn't easy finding the right words when a family member or friend experiences grief or loss. It’s even harder when that person is a child. But Susan Harrison, a writer, musician and puppeteer in Kalamazoo, has found a way to ease the pain and bring about healing by combining her various skills. Her Going on a Journey is a picture book for children that features vivid illustrations by Conrad Kaufman.
“It is really appropriate for any age,” Harrison says. “It can be about losing a loved one, or it can be about any kind of grief someone is experiencing, like bullying or being lonely. If you don’t know what to say, you can offer Going on a Journey as a gift.”
The story and the illustrations take the reader on a puppy's journey as he finds himself lost in the dark woods. The puppy struggles to cope with his sadness, and at first tries to bury it inside, but the forest friends he meets encourage him to deal with those difficult feelings instead. He can’t hide from his feelings; he can’t bounce over them; he can’t skip around them; and he can’t just hurry past them. He must go through them, and his friends can help.
Harrison is the owner of Palamazoo and travels to schools, libraries, hospices and other venues for events laced with her music and puppetry. Each show is tailored to suit her audience best. Going on a Journey is her first book. Tucked inside the back cover is a CD with the music that accompanies the story.
Going on a Journey was made possible with the support by the Dorothy U. Dalton Foundation and the John E. Fetzer Institute Fund of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. Other support came from Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan. Musicians on the CD include Harrison on guitar and vocals; Larry Lowis on bass; Carolyn Koebel on percussion; and Dave Hunt on harmonica.
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