21 May 2007
Author/Illustrator: Sylvia Van Ommen
George (a rabbit) and Oscar (cat) arrange to meet up in the park to share jellybeans. Their afternoon snack soon leads to a disarming discussion of the existence of heaven, as both characters express their anxieties about the great beyond. The key to Van Ommen's story is that she doesn't pretend to have any answers. Rather, she allows George and Oscar the luxury of their existential anxieties... which is much more refreshing than sweeping their worries under the rug with sugar-coated message. Jellybeans is ultimately optimistic, but does not dare to discount or dismiss the validity of uncertainty (and reasonable doses of quiet despair).
Possible sequels to jellybeans:
gummy bears: George and Oscar share an packet of gummy bears while discussing Purgatory. The story ends with a discussion of Pope Benedict's recent decision to reconsider the doctrine of "limbus infantum", which says that unbaptized babies go into Limbo.
peanut m&m's: While considering the concept of hell, George and Oscar decide that if they do happen to end up in a fiery afterlife, they would both bring m&m's because they melt in your mouth, not in your hand.
now & laters: George and Oscar are joined by their buddy Sid the Squirrel for a meditation session and a lesson on reincarnation.
brussel sprouts: The two friends meet up in the park only to realize that they both forgot to bring candy. This disappointing turn of events forces them to grapple with the possibility that there may not be an afterlife. Maybe religious doctrine has it all wrong. Maybe you die and you're dead, and that's all she wrote. The two friends are rudely interrupted when Christopher Hitchens pops out from behind a tree and drunkenly shouts, "Aha!" and then kicks Oscar in the head for good measure.