by Joanne Rocklin, published 2011
“Ms. Snoops’s memory, whispered the angel, was like the lacy antimacassars on the organ and green striped sofa’s arms. Ms. Snoops’s memory had little holes in it, here and there…”
This children’s book almost feels like it is from another time, even though it was written in 2011. Perhaps because it is interspersed with memories of the past, it feels poignant and yet contemporary. There is a bit of a plot, involving saving a beloved orange tree. However, the heart of the children’s book is the emotional bonds between people in a neighborhood, between children and older people, between past and present. It is also a story about reconciliation and healing one’s past. Yet this is all done with a very light touch. Nothing heavy. Children can read this children’s book and take it at face value, just reading the moments as they occur, or they can feel their way into the book, and sense the deeper changes that each of the characters go through.
I particularly like the way the author brings in difficult situations, such as a young baby that had brain surgery, without bombarding us with trauma and maudlin drama. It is all presented easily, matter-of-factly, and yet we can still sense the love between siblings and parents as they cope. This incident is not the heart of the story, but just an illustration of the many ways the author has created a tapestry of caring relationships.