Sunday, 9 March 2008


GFI is Radio 4's kids' programme. I don't listen to it often, but through my occasional dalliances with it I do know exactly what to do when I find a whale stranded on a beach.

Barney Harwood, who presents it, used to sing along to the theme tune which made it much more entertaining than nowadays when he doesn't. But I guess he has some dignity to maintain.

Tonight's programme was actually a really sensitive and careful discussion on how children cope with death, and what does and doesn't help.

Barney talked mainly to three children, two of whom were siblings who had lost their Dad, and one a girl who had lost her brother. They also had Michael Rosen on the programme, the current children's laureate, who wrote Michael Rosen's Sad Book after the death of his son. He wrote it to help himself cope, but it is a children's book which children experiencing grief can read and, judging by the reviews of the kids in the programme, is very helpful and reassuring to them. All of them, Rosen himself included, particularly loved the illustrations in the book, done by the ever-fabulous Quentin Blake.

They also talked to Milly Bell, who wrote My Daddy is Dying when she was 7 years old, in order to help other children in the same situation that she was in. Then Barney and the children on the programme asked her various questions, and her maturity when discussing her life was truly incredible.

The programme was gentle and inspiring. This adult here wishes she had the guts and wisdom of some of those kids, in dealing with death and bereavement.

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