By Patricia MacLachlan, published 2006
“‘He can only speak French in my journal,’, I said. ‘I suppose that’s what writing is for,’ said Grandfather. ‘To change life and make it come out the way you want it to.'”
It is a testimony to the author’s skill that I could read (accidentally) the last children’s book in a series of five, and love every piece of it, without knowing anything that went before. I have been waiting to read the entire classic Sarah Plain and Tall series, yet somehow skipped right to the end. And I’m glad I did, as this book in some ways far surpasses the entire series altogether.
This children’s book has the evolved, simplified writing that MacLachlan’s more recent books exhibit. And it addresses something so precious, particularly to those of us who are grandparents – preparing a child for the death of the grandparent. I cry just writing those words. Yet there is nothing maudlin or sad about this children’s book. It is exquisite.
I won’t say much else about this children’s book, except that I would love to read it with my grandson. It is an easy read, so that 3rd graders can enjoy this by themselves. If I were a parent of a child who had just lost their grandparent, I would read it aloud with them, especially if they were only 6 or 7. (I think 5 is too young for this.)
I forgot to mention that the book (and series) is considered historical fiction. Somehow that feels besides the point, as the human emotions are timeless. As a lovely conclusion to a series that stands on its own, this book too, will hold its own place in quality children’s literature.