Song of the Sea

Using bibliotherapy isn’t exclusive to just books and poetry. Anything with language fits the bill, and a wonderful film can go a long way. A film I think would be perfect for a bibliotherapeutic meeting would be Song of the Sea, an Irish tale of myth and family ripe for the following themes: late-bloomers, sibling strife, or the loss of a parent.

This hand-drawn and critically acclaimed movie is set in modern day but has a lovely fantastical bent – the family lives in a lighthouse and the mother is pregnant with their second child. She has complications with the new delivery and disappears, leaving only the baby, Saoirse, behind. The film flashes forward a few years with the baby a young child, and mute, the brother Ben upset with her because he blames her for his mother’s death, and the father, a shell of himself, disconnected from everything around him. They are taken to the city by their grandmother where story enters full adventure mode showcasing fairies, owls, and ancient mythology come to life. There are lovely symbolic parallels in the story, too, and it would be easy for the participants in the group talk to discuss what the characters’ hardships felt like as echoed in their own lives.

The film is both sad and uplifting, much like everyday life, and the lilting music throughout is very enjoyable. My five-year-old sang the songs for days afterward. The absolutely stunning artwork is captivating. It would be a lovely tie-in to bring out books about myth (Celtic and otherwise) and perhaps Irish culture books, both non-fiction and fiction by Irish authors, and traditional Celtic music.

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