By Candy Wellins, illustrated by Charlie Eve Ryan. Page Street Kids, 2020. 32 pages. $17.99/hardcover. Recommended for ages 4–8.
In this picture book, Candy Wellins conveys the joy that can be found in the very special relationship between grandparent and grandchild. The story opens with smiling Stella and George baking cinnamon rolls together. Throughout the first half of the book, readers see the pair going on outings, gardening together, and dancing. They hold hands and hug, and we can witness their closeness. We learn that Stella “never, ever tired of reading George’s favorite books, listening to his favorite jokes, or admiring his growing collection of bouncy balls.”
Throughout the book, readers will appreciate the beautiful artwork. Charlie Eve Ryan created the illustrations in mixed media digital art, pens, textures, and brushes. The colors radiate warmth: pinks, yellows, greens, and soft blues. George, drawn as mixed race, appears to be a happy child.
One day, he sees his parents crying. “And Mom explained why George couldn’t see Stella today or any other Saturday.” Without using the word “death,” the writer and illustrator show us a family in grief. Simply stated, “It was hard,” and, “Cinnamon rolls tasted sad.” After a couple pages, a baby named Stella is welcomed into the family. The reader sees George sharing adventures with his little sister as he had done with his grandmother.
The honest yet gentle depiction of loss and grief will be invaluable to families trying to help a child cope with a similar experience. The author shows us that life will continue, and that we will always remember the caring we received from loved ones who have died. This title could be very useful for meetinghouse libraries and any collection concerned with pastoral care of young families.
Lisa Rand is a youth services librarian in southeastern Pennsylvania.