I don’t often review audiobooks on Linda’s Book Bag but I am partial to a children’s story so when I was asked if I’d like to listen to Horatio and the Fear of Dying I readily agreed – not least because I seem to have lost so many precious people of late, including my wonderful Dad.
Horatio and the Fear of Dying is a Kickstart project and you can find out more here.
Horatio and the Fear of Dying
Once upon a time… a brave boy named Horatio challenged and conquered Death, dawning everlasting life over his Kingdom. But as life and death are in love, one without the other became joyless. Soon, Horatio must mend the cycle he has broken.
Horatio And The Fear Of Dying was inspired by Jim Henson’s 1997 TV adaptation of the famous 1850s Russian Folktale, The Soldier And Death.
My Review of Horatio and The Fear of Dying
Horatio is so worried about dying that he doesn’t enjoy life as much as his sister Rosemary.
Firstly, I want to say how well I felt the music reflected the various events and characters. Happy Rosemary’s pieces are so much lighter than fearful Horatio’s.
Horatio and the Fear of Dying is a really great way to explore and discuss death with children in a non-threatening way. The story has all the characteristics of a traditional fairy story with a mysterious woman, eternal sleep and a magic crystal so that it fits into the conventions children will feel comfortable with.
As an English person, it took me a couple of minutes to attune to the American accent of the narrator but the quality of the story was such that I was soon engaged with the narrative and forgot about the voice telling it to me. I thought the vocabulary was extremely well chosen as there were enough unfamiliar of more challenging words to add a layer of mystery for children without undermining their ability to understand the story.
However, what is most deserving of praise is the tackling of a subject – death – that children can begin to become obsessed by. Through listening to this story in a safe environment with a protective adult a child can ask questions and be reassured so that death is not a taboo and fearful subject. I think that is an admirable approach.
About J.D Oldenburg
J.D. Oldenburg (Jose Diaz-Oldenburg) grew up with an unusually intense fear of death. He didn’t suffer trauma or family member’s death in his early youth, yet as a little kid he often sat with his parents to ask concerned questions about the subject. Conversations about death took place almost every evening. Some nights he understood, some nights he feared.
At the early age of nine, he confronted his anxiety by penning a short tale titled “La Muerte de la Muerte” or, Death of Death. A short story inspired by Jim Henson’s 1997 adaptation of an old Russian Folktale called The Soldier and Death.
In early 2015, La Muerte de la Muerte showed up hidden between old books in the family library and a new idea was born. Horatio and The Fear of Dying would come to life.
Armed with a bachelor’s degree in film, a couple of highly encouraging rejection letters, and seven years of experience in film production and advertising, J.D. felt compelled to bypass traditional publishing and retain full control of the final product. He built his creative team through persistence, trial and error, and craigslist ads. After locking the right artists, they embarked on an almost three-year process to the final creation released now.
J.D. hopes the book will help kids all over the world ease this universal fear and gain a strengthened sense of adventure about life.
J.D. Oldenburg lives in Los Angeles, California.