A week late I found the perfect 'ill' book in the library yesterday.
When Eddie was in the depths of his poorly gloom he trailed up the stairs at one point announcing his intention to 'play some sad music on my piano because I am Not Well'. In 'The Sniffles for Bear' by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton, very very sick Bear is similarly in search of melancholy music from his too perky Mouse companion.
'"When someone is dreadfully ill, you sing mournful songs. Everyone knows that," growled Bear. He blew his nose with a honk.'
This is a pitch perfect book in both text and illustration. It captures both the grumpy misery of a cold and the secret pleasure that may be derived from a self pitying wallow in such grumpy misery. Bear droops himself around in a spreading, sighing, notice me sort of way very familiar to anyone who has had to play nurse. Poor Mouse finds that every suggestion he makes is wrong (also rather familiar) and is reduced to transcribing Bear's dictated will. At least there may be a red roller skate bequest coming for his labours.
When the tables are turned and Mouse becomes the patient at the end of the book, Bear has learned exactly what comfort an ill friend requires. It's a tender friendship, deftly realised.
'Bear carefully tucked him in. "I'm sorry you're ill," he said.
"Tank you, Bear, " Mouse sniffled. And after a moment, he added, "Dat was just the ting."
I suspect this book might be one with particular adult appeal. Perish the thought that the words 'Man Flu' should ever pass my lips but those that have a partner of either sex who requires particularly active sympathy when poorly will find much to enjoy here. Which is not to say that your children won't enjoy it too. It's good for anyone, whatever their age and whether patient or nurse to be reminded that 'this too shall pass.' Nettle soup all round then.