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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Death for an Early Age

Since few pre-schoolers worry about taxes, perhaps the toughest topic to take on in children’s TV is death.

We’ve just seen a movingly simple drama from KRO in the Netherlands, in which Adriaan (roughly six years old) and his father go to get a coffin for Spottie the dog, and then bury him in the neighbor’s woods. The program takes its time in telling the story; it’s not afraid to rest its gaze on Adriaan’s face and register his very real emotions, not does it rush through a burial in which Adriaan is too angry to say his goodbyes. Adriaan quarrels with the carpenter’s son when he asks too intrusive questions, but when the son accompanies the family to bury Spottie, the two reach a friendship.

On the other hand, in conversations since I wrote the above paragraphs, I’ve heard from others that the family in the film was cold and unfeeling in how it dealt with Adriaan, and that the program never allowed the boy to truly show sadness.

But – as Reading Rainbow used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it. The program is on KRO Youth’s wonderful YouTube channel. Here’s the link – watch and let me know what you think.

Adriaan and Spottie

Pardon the especially poor photo quality.

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