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Austin Schlichtman
Author, Illustrator
Fred & Red Say Goodbye

Children/Young Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Fred & Red Say Goodbye is a touching story about the emotions associated with the loss of a loved one. The story follows Fred the penguin as he begins to process the news his beloved Red is sick and unable to be cured. Created to help children understand emotions associated with loss. While providing adults with valuable insight into the developmental understanding of grief in children. The simple narrative allows readers to connect with Fred & Red without competing with the reader's own personal experiences related to their loss.
In a lightly allegorical story about grief, a penguin named Fred cherishes his balloon friend, Red, but Red gingerly explains that he is very sick and that “Someday I won’t be here anymore.” Fred’s subsequent emotions mirror the stages of grief. When Fred learns that “a band-aid and a kiss” won’t help, he questions whether it’s his fault (“Are you leaving because I hit you with that snowball the other day?”) then reacts with anger. After bargaining (“What if I shovel the snow? Do you still have to go?”), Fred begins to accept that while his friend must depart, memories of Red remain. Newcomer Schlichtman’s digital artwork creates a spare polar environment with snowy mountain peaks set against a dark blue sky; Fred is created from an assemblage of ovals, and drop shadows provide a subtle three-dimensionality. Despite occasional typographical errors and somewhat robotic dialogue, Schlictman’s story offers accessible ideas for readers dealing with the confusing emotions that accompany loss. Opening pages, written in a child’s voice, guide parents through children’s perspectives on loss across four age ranges. Ages 4–8. (BookLife)