Picture book classics often appear modest. ‘Beginnings and Endings with Lifetimes in Between’ is such a book. Published in 1983, it is available in multiple editions and translations, with many copies in libraries. it offers a simple but highly effective presentation of the life cycle. The book lacks a religious tone and does not mention an afterlife thus making it appropriate for different settings. Here readers are introduced to plants, people, birds, fish, animals and insects. Each lifetime includes a unique beginning, ending and living in between. The text is lyrical and comforting with its rhythm and repetition of phrasing. Robert Ingpen’s highly detailed and realistic artwork fills the page opposite the text, each featuring a cream-coloured background and mesmerising images that are so lifelike they invite stroking and intense inspection.
This is not a book just for times of sorrow and grief. These simple explanations about the cycle of life and death for animals, plants and people is presented in a matter of fact, yet poignant way. Most importantly, words and images invite discussion and possibly offer comfort for those grieving. ‘Beginnings and Endings with Lifetimes in Between’ explains that dying is as much a part of living as being born.