What's Heaven?

What's Heaven?

Hardcover(First Edition)

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This treasure of a book, for people of all faiths, is a starting point for parents who must talk about the difficult topic of death with their children.

What should parents say when a loved one dies? Heaven is a difficult subject that always comes up at tough times, and Maria Shriver has written a very special book precisely for these stressful moments. What's Heaven? is the story of Kate, a little girl whose great-grandma has just died. She seeks answers, and her mother helps her learn about Heaven. The many questions in this book are real, coming from Shriver's own children, nieces, and nephews when her grandmother Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy passed away. With 900,000 copies of the book now in print, the loving, confident, and ultimately uplifting answers Shriver provides are helping readers' families come together, feel closer to one another, and experience peace during the times when they need it most.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312382414
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 10/30/2007
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 32
Sales rank: 75,843
Product dimensions: 7.72(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range: 5 - 8 Years

About the Author

Maria Shriver graduated from Georgetown University. A correspondent for Dateline NBC, she lives in California with her husband, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and their four children. Maria is the author of What's Heaven?


On Tuesday, March 9th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Maria Shriver to discuss WHAT'S HEAVEN?.

Moderator: Welcome, Maria Shriver! Thank you for taking the time to join us online this afternoon. How are you doing today?

Maria Shriver: I am thrilled to be here with people who are book readers, and I am very excited to talk about my new book.

Karen Miller from Wilmette, IL: Thank you for writing such a needed book to help us talk about this difficult subject with our children. What are some of the issues that scare young children most about death?

Maria Shriver: Thank you so much for thanking me. This is a book I was passionate about and felt I needed to write because of exactly what you said: Kids are scared about a lot of different aspects of death. What I discovered was that kids were concerned about what happens from someone else's perspective after they die; they were afraid of the idea of putting someone in a box and then in the ground. As the child in my story asks, What happens if great-grandma can't breath or wants to get out? I tried to answer, in the best way possible, these and other questions. The most important thing I have learned is that if you just talk to kids about the subject, the mere fact that they can talk about it makes them less frightened.

Pac87@aol.com: Good afternoon, Maria. What would you like to be the No. 1 thing people take away from reading this book? Thanks for answering my question.

Maria Shriver: Thanks for asking it. A good question. I don't know if I have a No. 1 thing, but what I hope this book does is to give kids and families the ability to talk to each other about a difficult subject. I hope it gives peace to kids in need, and I hope that it touches people and makes them as comfortable as anybody can be about the subject. I also hope that it shows people that even after someone dies -- a family member, a loved one, a friend -- you can keep someone alive, so to speak, by sharing memories of them, talking about them, and letting them live on for other generations.

Karla Brunson from Cherry Hill, NJ: Hello, Maria. Do you feel the broadcast news industry has drastically changed in the time period you have been working in it? Now that we have all these 24-hour news channels and news magazine shows on all three major networks, several times a week, do you feel the audience is getting somewhat saturated with "news"? Thanks, I am a huge fan of "Dateline."

Maria Shriver: I think that the news business has changed dramatically since I first came into it. As you mentioned, it is on 24 hours on more channels than I can think of. On the downside, I think it fragments the audience so that it is harder to reach people with whatever it is you are trying to talk about. On the other hand, like this chat, technology has made it so that people have hundreds of programs at their disposal and can now interact with people on the news like we are doing right now. Furthermore, the advances made in the business have opened many more opportunities for women, compared to when I began. I have lots of different opinions about the state of my profession today, but they would be too long for any chat. I am glad you watch "Dateline." I will be doing "The Today Show" at the end of the month and I hope you will tune in for that too. Thanks a lot.

Kate from Houston: I read on the back of the book that you had thought of writing it when your oldest daughter was six. When did you begin writing this book, and how did you go about it? Did you have any say in the illustrations?

Maria Shriver: I started writing it right after my grandmother died, within days. It took me quite a long time to get it just right in terms of how specific I wanted to be; in other words, I wrote one version that was really specific, another that perhaps wasn't specific enough, and then I massaged them and came up with this version. In terms of the illustrations, I picked Sandra Speidel from more than 20 artists I looked at. I went through hundreds of different books looking at hundreds of different ways of depicting what I had written. I chose Sandra because I thought her art would be pleasing to the eye and comforting, and I loved the way she interpreted the work. I am so proud of her illustrations because I think they make the entire book really come to life. I don't think this book would be as successful as it is right now if not for her incredible painting.

Judy Bayha from Carmel, IN: Ms. Shriver, will you be doing a signing anywhere that I might call and order three copies of your new book? I have seen it, I loved it, and I thought how special it would be if I could purchase it for my three children...especially signed by you.

Maria Shriver: I have signed some bookplates here tonight, and now that the book is a bestseller, I am thinking of doing a signing. Do you have a suggestion where?

Colleen Walker from Harvard Business School: Was this your first attempt to write a book? Do you have plans to write more in the future? Will you follow the theme of children's books?

Maria Shriver: This is my first book. I did have an idea for another book which I have just completed, called TEN THINGS I WISH I KNEW WHEN I GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE (it came from a Holy Cross commencement address I gave last May -- out next spring), but now that I have seen the response to this book I am thinking of doing another. What I have found [is that] I would like to do something that I am passionate about, and that I have some experience with. I think what made this book a success is that it is on a subject that in a way brings us all together, is something we all share. So unless I can find a subject that I think would be like that, I don't know if I would do another. Do you have any suggestions?

Bradie from New Zealand: What experience did you draw on from your own childhood memories of coping with death that helped you help your daughter?

Maria Shriver: I didn't really draw on an experience from my own childhood; what I was determined to do was to give my kids a different experience than I had. I wanted to talk with them about this subject and that is why I wrote this book. When I was little, I experienced the shock of losing a member of my family, but I never felt like I was able to talk about it. That is why I felt so strongly about this book.

Joanne from Half Moon Bay, CA: Not a question, just a comment. Maria, I have always enjoyed your news reports. I am looking forward to more in the future. I enjoyed your visit to Oprah's show last week. I appreciate your down-to-earth attitude and the values you are instilling in your children. I am looking forward to reading your book.

Maria Shriver: Thank you so much. And I am looking forward to hearing back what you think about the book. I had great fun on Oprah.

Scott Ehlers from Santa Monica, CA: Hey, Maria! Would you ever consider making a move to hosting a morning show? I would love to see you first thing in the morning.

Maria Shriver: Thank you. You may be too young, but I did that already. I was the host of the CBS morning show in 1985-1986. And while I loved it, my life now is in California and those shows are all based in New York. But I am going to do "The Today Show" the last week of March, so we can wake up together that week. Thank you very much.

Emma Stoll from Reading, PA: Who or what was your motivation for writing this book?

Maria Shriver: The death of my grandmother was the major motivation, coupled with my children's questions about her death. Ironically, I learned from them through their questions and answers, and they were so helpful to me that I wanted to put them in a book.

Claire from New Jersey: Is the book solely for children or can adults benefit from it too?

Maria Shriver: Absolutely! The wonderful thing I have learned in the last week and half is how many thousands of adults have bought it for themselves and other adults, something I never even thought about. In fact, I have been so moved by the stories that so many adults have shared with me since this book came out; they told me that it has taken them to places in their mind where they haven't been in years. It has allowed them to touch base with other members of their family and talk about things they haven't resolved. When you write a book, I discovered, you never know how people are going to accept it. I wrote this book for kids, but I am thrilled that it is touching adults as well.

Soozan from Syracuse, NY: Did you think Barbara Walters did a good job with the Monica Lewinsky interview? Also, what does it say about our country that her book is selling at the rate that it is?

Maria Shriver: I think, from what I understand, that the book had a huge initial spurt and has since died down. I think that was to be expected. I think what this says about our country and my profession, what it says about politics, men, women, etc. -- it says so much. I don't think you could type as fast as what I could say about it. Suffice to say, for me watching it, I felt an overall sadness.

Elke from New York City: What do you plan on doing for New Year's Eve 1999?

Maria Shriver: I hope I am roasting marshmallows with my kids and my husband and thanking God for all my blessings -- at home.

Rachel Gross from McLean, VA: I saw you on "Oprah" (last week, I think) and it was a pleasure. My family is originally from Massachusetts and I've always admired you and your family. I think your book sounds terrific and I've read excerpts of it. You have such great advice about motherhood, family loyalty, and following one's dreams without falling off course. Have you thought about writing or speaking on any of these topics?

Maria Shriver: Yes, I spoke on those topics last year at Holy Cross College, and I got such an overwhelming response, like yours, that I turned it into a book which will be coming out next spring. Thank you for all your kind comments. It will called TEN THINGS I WISH I KNEW WHEN I GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE.

Lydia from Virginia: Maria, I know you have four children, but how old are they? How long have you been married?

Maria Shriver: Nine, seven, five, and one. They keep me hopping.

Tori from Short Hills, NJ: What books did you and do you read to your children?

Maria Shriver: The baby's favorite is GOODNIGHT MOON, which was all of my kids' favorite. My favorite is WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER; every time I read it, I cry. My girls are into chapter books, and my son likes Dr. Seuss.

Noreen from Boston: Do you have advice for those interested in becoming broadcast journalists?

Maria Shriver: Start at the bottom; apply to your local station and be willing to do anything and everything. Be willing to work seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and learn how to write well.

Tracey from Concord, CA: Who do you consider your role models in life? Also, what was the toughest part for you in writing this book?

Maria Shriver: The toughest part in writing the book was how long it took. I am used to the immediacy of TV, so this was tough. My role models are my parents.

Clare from Dade County, FL: What to you is the toughest part of raising children with a career? Thanks! And I love you on "Dateline."

Maria Shriver: Thank you. The toughest part is juggling. I work only part-time, but I still find it difficult to feel really good at both things. On the days I feel like I am doing great at parenting, I feel bad about my work, and vice versa, but I am content with having downsized my career in order to focus on my kids. But there is no doubt in my mind that trying to do both leaves you frazzled. [laughs]

Noreen from Vermont: Hello, Ms. Shriver. Do you have any plans to continue writing children's books? Also, would you ever consider writing a book about your life and your news experiences?

Maria Shriver: I don't feel that I am ready to write an autobiography and doubt whether I will ever feel ready. I would like to do more children's books. This experience has been so wonderful. I am thrilled at the reaction to the book and thrilled that it has become a bestseller already, and most importantly, I am thrilled by how it is touching people. I can look at it as one of the best things I have ever done.

Jack from California: You come from a prominent Democratic family while your husband is a staunch Republican. Where do you fit in? And were you annoyed that your husband had to buy the golf clubs of your late uncle (JFK) at an auction? Couldn't the Kennedy children have just given them to you?

Maria Shriver: I was thrilled that he bought the golf clubs, and I was thrilled that a lot of the money went to the Kennedy library to further my uncle's legacy. As far as my politics, I leave that under wraps because I am a journalist and I cover both parties, but I think it is pretty easy to guess where I stand.

Paul from New York: Is it hard to keep up with all of your cousins?

Maria Shriver: Not at all.

Moderator: Thank you so much for joining us this evening, Maria Shriver. You have been a heavenly guest. Before we go, do you have any closing comments for your online audience?

Maria Shriver: I really enjoyed our chat. I hope we can do it again soon, and I hope everyone will go out and buy this book, and buy it for their friends and for any kids they know. And I hope they will enjoy it.

Customer Reviews

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What's Heaven 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hi! My name is kate and I enjoyed this book. I am seven years old. There were very hard words that I couldn't read or pronounce but it doesn't mean I didn't enjoy this book. Maria shriver is a very good author and writes very good stories for children and adults. I hope she writes more books for children and adults. It probably took Maria a long time to make a great book. The first book I read was What's Heaven?
asousley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kate's great-grandmother passes away. Kate starts asking her mom about what happens to her after she dies. Her mother tells her that she went to heaven and that she will be happy up there and never sick. Kate's mother tells her that she will be with God. Kate keeps asking questions and her mom reassures her that we will never forget her and that she will always live within us.Very good book. It can help explain to children what happens to people when they die.A teacher can use this book to explain to children that death is not the end, but that our souls go to a better place. Also that a person we love will always live within us.
Heather19 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book gives a very nice and easy to understand definition of heaven. When a relative dies, a young girl asks her mother question after question about heaven, dying, etc, and the mother's answers are simple and wonderfully reassuring. I actually read this book for my own needs because it seems like one of the very few books out there that discuss heaven without being overly religious and lecturing. Yes, it's a childrens book, but for someone who simply needs reassurance with such a complex and loaded topic, this book is wonderful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
smile427 More than 1 year ago
My daughter was having a very difficult time dealing with the loss of our dog. This book helped ease her through the process. Plus, it refers to the loss of a grandparent as well. I highly recommend this if you have suffered a loss in your family and you have young children who need answers!
Carra69 More than 1 year ago
I felt the way they discribe Grandma being put in a box and buried under the ground to graphic and upsetting. I would not let my children read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
reader60 More than 1 year ago
A wonderful book for a young child that has lost, or is about to loose a loved one. I give away 20 or so every year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I recently lost my grandmother and I'm pregnant. When I read a few pages of the book, I couldn't take my eyes out of the story. It was very touching, I will read it to my daughter for sure!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the second time that I have turned to this book to help my now 6 yr. old daughter deal with the death of a loved one. Maria Shriver shows genuine compassion toward children in this book. It is written in such a way as to help children cope with and come to grips with their feelings. And I would also recommend it for adults. It has helped me to deal with the sudden death of my father. I highly recommend this bookd for children of all ages and even for adults.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a great story. I lost my great-grandmother at the age of 20 and still found it difficult to understand. I have younger cousins that I read this with and I think it helped all of us cope with the situation. Great job Maria! Also, the illustrations were beautiful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My father passed away recently and I wanted to find a simple book to help me explain to my 3 year old daughter that her grandfather had died and gone on to a wonderful place. I had no prior knowledge of 'What's Heaven?' but when I leafed through it in the bookstore it was exactly what I had in mind. I just happened to mention this book to my daughter's teacher and she asked me to bring it to school so that she could share it with the class during their devotion. The day that I took the book and handed it to the teacher she commented that it was just what she needed. Later that day I discovered that her mother had died earlier that morning. I allowed her to keep the book for awhile and when she returned it to me she said that it really helped her. So you see, this is a book that touches all ages. It's simplistic and reassuring.Just what I needed during this difficult time. P.S. The illustrations are heavenly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that this book was poorly written but illustrated beautifully!!! The pictures were so in tune with the story and so bright which was a nice juxtaposition to the subject of death. Wonderful job Sandra!!!