by Lauren Wolk, published 2016
“The year I turned twelve, I learned that what I said and what I did mattered. So much, sometimes, that I wasn’t sure I wanted such a burden. But I took it anyway…”
The tears are still on my cheeks as I finished a non-stop read through this intensely exquisite and dramatic children’s book. It is one long extended drama, with barely time to breathe, but filled with heart, emotion, and challenges. The major challenge- doing whatever is in your power when you know something needs to be corrected. And when someone’s life is at stake, that’s a big chore for a twelve-year-old girl.
I would suggest that this children’s book, with its serious content, is for 12 and older. Not because there is anything too gruesome, but because it is unsettlingly close to the truth – how innocent people can be blamed based on no evidence and superficial judgment. Given world we are in, this is an important book for children, and one that could best be used in family discussions.
This children’s book also has a sobering, rather than ‘happy’ ending, that is heart-breaking in its recognition of the reality of life. Another reason why it is is worthwhile for parents to read the book with their children. Death is a reality, and troubling when it comes to people you love, but it can be carried with understanding.
For a children’s book to make it to my website, it needs more than just a good story. It also needs to be well-written, and I feel that this book is flawless in the way the story is presented. It matches any good literature for adults, without being over the head of young readers. A challenging, sobering, but excellent children’s book awaits you.