The Funeral

The Funeral

Illustrated by: James, Matt
ages 4 to 7 / grades P to 2

A New York Times / New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Book
New York Public Library Best Books for Kids
Ezra Jack Keats Award Honor Winner

Norma and her parents are going to her great-uncle Frank’s funeral, and Norma is more excited than sad. She is looking forward to playing with her favorite cousin, Ray, but when she arrives at the church, she is confronted with rituals and ideas that have never occurred to her before. While not all questions can be answered, when the day is over Norma is certain of one thing — Uncle Frank would have enjoyed his funeral.

This sensitive and life-affirming story will lead young readers to ask their own questions about life, death and how we remember those who have gone before us.

Key Text Features
speech bubbles

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.K.1
With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.K.7
With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.3
Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.7
Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)

A New York Times / New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Book
New York Public Library Best Books for Kids
Ezra Jack Keats Award Honor Winner

Norma and her parents are going to her great-uncle Frank’s funeral, and Norma is more excited than sad. She is looking forward to playing with her favorite cousin, Ray, but when she arrives at the church, she is confronted with rituals and ideas that have never occurred to her before. While not all questions can be answered, when the day is over Norma is certain of one thing — Uncle Frank would have enjoyed his funeral.

This sensitive and life-affirming story will lead young readers to ask their own questions about life, death and how we remember those who have gone before us.

Key Text Features
speech bubbles

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.K.1
With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.K.7
With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.3
Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.7
Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)

Published By Groundwood Books Ltd - Apr 1, 2018
Specifications pages | 8.75 in x 12 in

Praise for The Funeral:

Ezra Jack Keats Award Honor Winner
Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award Finalist
A New York Times / New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Book
New York Public Library Best Books for Kids
White Raven Selection


"Not only do readers hear Norma's voice in the words, but also they also see her thoughts in James' illustrations…. a sensitive and positive treatment of a difficult subject." — CM Magazine

"This captivating take on a child's experience of a distant relative's funeral glows with feeling and joy." — BayViews

"An unexpected but realistic take on the simple ways in which kids process serious events around them." — Globe and Mail

"[An] oddly exhilarating story … James ("When the Moon Comes") has an ear at child level and beautifully and convincingly shows us children …. who are full of life." — New York Times

"Matt James offers a lighthearted — yet not irreverent — look at the rituals of death, through the eyes of a child…. Sweetly, gently funny and poignant at the same time, “The Funeral” is perfectly pitched to a child’s understanding. This uncomplicated story will also charm adults who recognize that being remembered is a gift." — The Washington Post

"James shows how children can remain focused on the joy and playfulness in life, even when surrounded by loss and sadness." — Quill & Quire“James uniquely and playfully captures the particularities of a child’s perspective.” — Booklist, starred review

“[A] book that gives young viewers a glimpse of the funeral experience but tacitly champions their right to process it in their own way.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

“Enveloping and original, James’ authorial debut offers an honest exploration of a difficult and delicate subject. Exceptional.” — Kirkus, starred review

“In his first outing as author, Canadian artist James examines the way the funeral of a distant relative feels to a child…. [the story] traces with a big heart the way she makes sense of this puzzling event.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Witnessing the acceptance of varied reactions to death and the elements of memorial will help children prepare for or reflect upon their first funeral. A notable portrayal.” — School Library Journal, starred review

“Matt James’s (I Know Here) quiet, child’s-eye view of a funeral, with all its mysterious rituals and traditions, is a pitch-perfect introduction to a sometimes-difficult theme…. [A] graceful, beautifully illustrated picture book about death, customs and emotions.” — Shelf Awareness, starred review

Praise for From There to Here by Laurel Croza, illustrated by Matt James:

“[A] low-key, emotionally true approach to a common and usually upsetting childhood experience.” — Kirkus, starred review

“James’s naive style has an infectious, unfettered energy. Croza’s spare text captures the narrator’s feelings of displacement with poetic immediacy.” — Quill & Quire, starred review

Praise for Northwest Passage as seen by Matt James:

“This stunning portrayal of early efforts to explore Canada’s Northwest Passage presents Rogers’ 1981 song in combination with glorious illustrations … Both realistic and allusive, these images are as haunting as the song. For U.S. readers, an illumination of a little-known history; for all Americans, a treasure.” — Kirkus, starred review

Audience ages 4 to 7 / grades P to 2
Reading Levels Lexile AD550L
Key Text Features speech bubbles
Common Core CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.K.1
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.3
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.K.7
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.7
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.3