Thursday, July 13, 2017

Book Review: When My Yiayia Died

I have never written a book review on this blog before (though I am thinking that perhaps I should do so more often), but I was asked* to write a review by a Facebook friend who is having a little trouble with the publicity of her book. Being such an awesome, and humble guy, I took to the task as quickly as I could write a reply.

When My Yiayia Died is a book about dealing with the death of a loved one and what to expect from an Orthodox funeral written by author Marjorie Kunch. Mrs. Kunch has a similar title When My Baba Died which is similar in content - the major difference between Yiayia and Baba is that one is written with a Slavic audience (or those who follow a Slavic tradition) in mind, while the other is written with a Greek audience (or those who follow a Greek tradition) in mind. I hope it should be obvious that Yiayia is for those who follow the Greek tradition. 

The book opens with a fictional boy who has just found out that his Yiayia has passed away. Then the book follows what traditionally happens leading up to an Orthodox funeral service, and ends with the internment. Mrs. Kunch lays things out in a simple way so that parents can explain these things to their children, or even to where children can read the book and understand what is being said. There is even a wonderful glossary of terms in the back for some of the words that are used throughout the book. 

When My Yiayia Died is not a terribly long book, it is 48 pages long (52 if you include the front and back covers and other things), but it has some wonderful pictures to go along with the explanations, and each of the three parts has quotes from St. John Chrysostom and the Orthodox Memorial Service. The book sets out to be a guide for parents and their children, and it does a wonderful job doing so by explaining how to deal with grief, and the processes which entail an Orthodox funeral of a loved one. It is amazingly simple and not overly complicated, it takes the time to introduce children to new words and ideas, and it encourages children to learn, understand, and take part in what is a new experience for them.

There is also a companion workbook for children that I absolutely love! It asks them to draw what they think grief would look like if it was an actual object, teaches them how to make a memorial table, a recipe for koliva and Greek funeral cookies, word searches to find the new terms that they learn. Most importantly both the companion workbook and the book proper take the time to explain to the children that feeling grief for the loss of a loved one is OK and that it is not the children's fault that their loved one has died. 

Personally, as a parent, I think that these books are invaluable resources to help children understand the passing of a loved one and what to expect during the funeral process. I wish that I had this book available to me and my children so I could better explain to my children the passing of their great-grandparents - even though none of them were Orthodox - and how to deal with grief and the funeral process (which is similar).

If I had a rating system for books I would give When My Yiayia Died and it's workbook both 5 stars out of 5. Or maybe ☦☦☦☦☦ / ☦☦☦☦☦

Please give Mrs. Kunch's website, Pascha Press, a visit and to order her book!

*I was asked to write this review, which I have after being given a copy of the book and the workbook. I have not been paid to write this, nor have I received any other compensation for this review. 

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