by Cynthia Rylant, published 1996
“So she began to name things. But she named only those things she knew she could never outlive. Her car, Betsy, had more get-up-and-go than anything around. Her chair, Fred, had never sagged a day in his life…”
Finally, a book that made me reverse my somewhat arbitrary policy of not reviewing picture books! This little illustrated children’s book totally stole my heart, and I felt that I had to make it more widely known. Yes, it is an illustrated, rather than a chapter, book. But it is actually literature, as the beauty of the little story is so sweet.
I had to think hard after I read this children’s book about whether I loved it for me, or whether I loved it for children. It’s about an elderly woman (as I am, I suppose, or will be sooner or later), who makes space in her heart for a little stray dog. There are several reasons why I really like the book. One is that it introduces the possibility of death in a way that has life in it. The old woman has ‘outlived’ all those she loves, and, the word death never appears. What a gentle way to describe the life of elders.
This children’s book also doesn’t have a child character for the young reader to identify with. While this might be construed as a flaw, to me, as a grandmother, I love that a child could read about and perhaps in some small way experience the life of an elder.
I think this is a very special young children’s book, one that I would want to read aloud with my grandson, and allow his own questions to arise. In any case, it is a perfect book for very young children, 5 to 6. And by the way, the watercolor illustrations are sublime.
Find this at your local bookstore