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Molly Burnham: The Infinite Questions of Dottie Bing (Grief + Loss)


Note: GIVEAWAY!

Molly Burnham and Penguin Random House are graciously offering a copy

to a lucky reader! To enter, just comment below with the words DOTTIE BING.

Or: follow us on Twitter or Facebook and comment using the words: "DOTTIE BING."

Good luck and thanks for reading!


Dial Books for Young Readers, Ages 8-12



It happens in a moment, in a flash. It shows up with seemingly no connection.


I am tempted to write the words “pops up,” but that sounds too friendly.

“Pops up” makes it sound like a game of Whack a Mole. And, as we know, grief is not a game. It is the devastating flip side of the most amazing emotion: LOVE.


Grief demands my attention in ways that simply make me run away. Really. Avoiding grief is how I have spent a large percentage of my life. It is a struggle, but I feel I’ve done pretty well. Shoving my grief in the back of a closet or burying it underground. (Of course, I plant flowers on top so that it looks pretty.) It is a coping strategy and works well…for a time. Sadly, like a bad horror movie, the grief finds me. It always finds me. This is my struggle. Perhaps, you know this struggle, too?


The Infinite Questions of Dottie Bing is, at heart, a book about love. Two people (Dottie and Grandpa Walter) who have nothing in common except Ima, the beloved grandmother to Dottie and the beloved wife to Grandpa Walter, who has died. And so, of course, as much as The Infinite Questions of Dottie Bing is about love, it is actually about grief.


When I started this book, I didn’t know I was writing a book about grief. I thought I was writing about problems and people trying to fix problems. Slowly, as I wrote, it dawned on me that my characters had a different idea. This is often my process, so I wasn’t surprised, but I was worried.


The problem being that as a children’s writer who is dedicated to the power of humor, grief isn’t funny. NOT AT ALL. And yet, as someone dedicated to humor, I needed to find my way in. Why? Because to declare myself as ‘dedicated to humor’ means I wholeheartedly believe that humor is important, valuable, and essential. I believe that it is inherently within us (like love and grief). I also believe that humor exists not only for fun, but to heal. Laughter is one of the ways we release emotional pain. And so, to write about grief, required that I write with humor.


And so, now the million-dollar question was where is the humor in grief?


 

"Slowly, as I wrote, it dawned on me that my characters had a different idea. This is often my process . . ."

 

And as I explored this question the answer arose: the humor of grief is in us. In us being human. In our interactions. In our fears. In our behavior. The humor is in my characters.


Interestingly, like grief, humor also happens in a moment. In a flash. It shows up with seemingly no connection. The ability to laugh always surprises me. I know that sounds strange, and as soon as I write it, I imagine some smarty pants rolling their eyes and saying something about how evolutionarily humor makes perfect sense. It keeps us alive. Blah, blah, blah. And yes, I know that and yes, it still surprises me. (Actually, it delights me because it means that our bodies recognize that laughing is as important as crying.)


The Infinite Questions of Dottie Bing is, at heart, a book about love. It is about two people, who have nothing in common except their love of the same person. But it is also about two people, who through their grief, through mishaps and confusions, through an infinite number of questions, learn to love each other.


I cannot speak on how anyone else should navigate their grief. I can only share what Dottie, Grandpa Walter, and I have learned from writing this book.


1. Grief needs to be cared for. It cannot be shoved, buried, or hidden.

2. Through its beauty, we see that we loved, that we are loved, and that we will love again. And:

3. With a little time and space, the jokes and laughs are never far away.


 

Molly B. Burnham has been a dog walker, ice-cream scooper, and elementary school teacher. The author of the Teddy

Mars series, she earned an MFA in children's writing from Hamline University and was the 2016 winner of The Sid Fleischman Award for Humor.


Molly lives in Massachusetts with her family.






Don't Forget there's a GIVEAWAY!

Molly Burnham and Penguin Random House are graciously offering a copy

to a lucky reader! To enter, just comment below with the words DOTTIE BING.

Or: follow us on Twitter or Facebook, and comment there, using the words: "DOTTIE BING."

Good luck and thanks for reading!


3 comentarios


Jennifer Merrifield
Jennifer Merrifield
22 ene 2023

DOTTIE BING. I can’t wait to meet you.

Me gusta

Jennifer Diehl
Jennifer Diehl
19 ene 2023

I’ve had my eye on this book for weeks! Thank you for writing about how intricately woven together are love and grief. DOTTIE BING.

Me gusta

Danielle Hammelef
Danielle Hammelef
18 ene 2023

Thank you for the peek inside your writing process and how you "listen" to your characters. DOTTIE BING

Me gusta
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