In her book, Buford Listens: A Story About Grief and Care, Joanne L. Sneed has written an informative, substantive, practical, and helpful volume for bereaved children (preschool through grade three). Teachers in classroom situations, leaders of children’s grief support groups, and those who do individual grief counseling with children can adapt this material to meet specific needs.
Joanne holds degrees from Freed-Hardeman University and Western Kentucky University. She has spent twenty of her twenty-six years in the classroom as a first-grade teacher, and she works closely with grief support groups. Her character, Buford, is a mouse that was chosen by her first-grade students in Madisonville, Kentucky. Buford had his beginning as a homemade puppet that was used to entertain Joanne’s son, Thomas, when he was in kindergarten in 1978.
Through her Buford story, Joanne explores and explains the feelings which children have as they experience loss. This story also describes how children can cope with loss. The attractive artwork and illustrations not only make the book very appealing, but they also enable the readers to identify with the content.
On May 30, 1993, the Daily News (Bowling Green, Kentucky) carried an informative review of this book. This review was published seven years following the death of Joanne’s husband, Tommy, who was killed in an auto accident on May 22, 1986. And, in a letter that Joanne wrote to me on February 22, 1996, in which she shared with me that her book had been published, she also told me that a scholarship in memory of her husband has been endowed at Freed-Hardeman University.
Following the death of Joanne’s husband, one of the things that helped her and her children deal with the loss of Tommy were the daily visits of Alex, an eighteen-month-old neighbor, about whom Joanne writes, “He would come over every day and ask, ‘I come in?’ He did more to help us work through our grief, really not knowing what he was doing, but it was of mutual benefit for both of us, because we just read and had a good relationship.”
By incorporating her grief experience and her professional skills, Joanne has created a work that will produce positive results in the lives of many of the children who read (and use) this book.