Where Do All the Flowers Go? is a gentle picture book about the challenging topic of grieving. Author and illustrator Lisa Crystal introduces young readers to a family of three small mice who live peacefully with their parents. On a rainy day, little Cookie, Foster, and Tidbit are worried to see that their parents, Mama and Papa Crumb, have some sad news. Grandmouse has died. She died because she was old, but Cookie doesn’t understand and thinks she personally caused Grandmouse’s death. After Cookie has a nightmare and wonders when she will die too, Mama Crumb uses examples from plants, birds, and fish to show how all things eventually die. Cookie and her brothers create memorials for their grandmother, each in their own way, to honor her.
Where Do All The Flowers Go? is a great book for children who see death as frightening, especially in the context of a loved one’s passing. I found the tone of Lisa Crystal’s book to be encouraging in an excellent way, as the abundant talk of new life being born nicely balanced the sadness of death and comparisons to simple, daily examples of life patterns in things they’ve seen every day enabled Cookie and her siblings (and children too!) to relate to such a big concept. The pastel illustrations create a hushed calmness that flows off the page, validating the mouse family’s actively hopeful theme of embracing life even more because you know it will one day end. A neatly placed reminder that death is no one's fault—it just happens—threads into the story, but grief emotions are very much at the forefront as the little mice express their feelings by doing things like planting a rose garden and writing poetry. Where Do All the Flowers Go? will serve parents and young children very well during a time of grief.
We Toot! is a light-hearted children’s picture book with a message of positive values. It is written by Ashley Wheelock and Arwen Evans and illustrated by Sandie Sonke. In it a group of little girls have a slumber party together. When one of the girls accidentally farts, the others are upset and can’t find the culprit. Farting isn’t ladylike—it isn’t for girls—one of them insists. But the cause of this small catastrophe steps proudly forward to say she’s unashamed to fart even though she’s a girl. Bodies are to be celebrated and actions like hiccupping, burping, and belching shouldn’t be treated more harshly just because they’re done by girls.
This children’s book has a good message deep inside it, about being honest with yourself and with other people. Ashley Wheelock and Arwen Evans have put together a sincere and funny story about some very real little girls faced with a situation that, though simple, gives them an opportunity to start early on being open-minded towards others. We Toot! takes the embarrassment out of normal bodily situations, like belching, by assuring children there’s nothing particularly different about being a girl! I liked the concept that conforming to artificial standards isn’t valuable—being a good person who supports other people and cares about them is what’s important. A story that puts a little rainbow and some sunshine on some happy girls who learn to help each other instead of engaging in a shower of criticisms, this book is a pleasant tool to use if you have a child who’s being judged by others.
When You Feel Better: A Get Well Soon Gift Book is a beautiful little picture book by Misty Black. It’s designed to be given as a gift to someone sick and is filled with comforting images of serene skies, happy friendships, and promises of fun adventures at the beach and on the mountains when the sick person has recovered. The characters are two small animals, a koala who is sick in bed, and a rabbit who visits his friend and offers him this book, saying he made it just for him. The rabbit then narrates adventures to the invalid about the wonderful things that will happen “when you feel better.”
A tender and uplifting book with a gentle atmosphere to it, When You Feel Better: A Get Well Soon Gift Book is indeed a good choice for a sick child. I liked the lilting, rhymed verses that took the sick bear on all kinds of adventures that did look like a lot of fun to think about if you’re cooped up in bed—playing under the stars; flying in a balloon; camping in springtime meadows; and watching the Aurora Borealis in winter. Shimmering and attractive pictures by Marina Batrak really sealed the deal on making this book a delight. One of the main charms of a picture book is how the words and images work together to build a story and this book’s accomplishment was above average. Subtle and filled with an enchanting tone of caring, Misty Black’s book is on my list of good items for children.
This is the companion for Sarah Scheele's newsletter blog. In it I share reviews for books I'd recommend/are similar to my own.