Norma Fox Mazer Dies

Very sad news that the incredible author Norma Fox Mazer has lost her battle with brain cancer.

Thank you to Julie Larios at Jacket Knack.

Kisses on the Wind

Kisses on the Wind by Lisa Moser, illustrated by Kathryn Brown

The covered wagon is being packed for the long trip to Oregon, but Lydia can’t imagine leaving her grandmother so far behind.  As her departure nears, Lydia and her grandmother walk together in the woods, float bark boats in the pond, and rest together in the long grass.  Grandma gives her a book filled with her stories to take along on the trip. They both quietly, solemnly, and beautifully say goodbye.

This is a picture book that will make your heart ache.  The gentle and prolonged farewell of these two people who obviously are kindred spirits is depicted with a real beauty and care.  Moser crafts a quiet story that is very moving.  Brown’s art matches the gentleness of the story perfectly with its muted colors and gentle lines.  The book never descends into maudlin emotionalism, in fact it is its inherent restraint that makes it work so well.  Bright-eyed Grandma, Lydia with her fly-away hair, and the natural setting all provide an antidote to excessive sweetness.

An ideal book for children who are moving, children whose extending family is moving away, or children of divorce.  It is a book that will work in many setting for many children, a book that really shows and feels the sadness of leaving someone behind.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by Becky at Young Readers.

Tess’s Tree

Tess’s Tree by Jess M. Brallier, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Tess loves her tree.  She loved to swing from its branches, play in its leaves, and read underneath it.  But when a big storm blows through, the tree loses a few of its largest branches and becomes unsafe.  The tree had to be taken down.  Tess doesn’t take this well, she is immensely sad, angry, and forlorn.  Then she decides that her tree needs a funeral, which allows everyone even some adults who loved the tree when they were children to come and celebrate it.

This book is a winning combination of treehugging (literally) green and understanding loss.  Brallier’s very short text is inviting and clear. The book doesn’t linger on the death of the tree, but on the recovery afterwards and the feelings it creates.  Reynolds has created clever and sweet illustrations for the book that give it a sense of lightness while never minimizing the loss that happened.

Great for young children grappling with any sort of loss in their lives, as it is made easier to understand and bear when it’s a tree.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed at Great Kid Books.