Toronto writer, Betty Quan, has written her first picture book to help young children begin the discussion about the grief and loss of a grandparent. Although the text specifically features a Chinese family where the grandmother lived in the same house as she grew older, the experiences she shared with her granddaughter have a universal appeal – they cook together, walk home from school together, and share stories of grandmother’s childhood. There are a number of issues that are not explicit (how long has grandmother lived with them, what medical issues she might have had) and so it leaves the door open for young children to contribute their own reality with their grandparent.
Carmen Mok has crafted endearing, full-page colourful illustrations that capture the intergenerational love between these two main characters. After Grandmother’s death, the perspective of the illustrations changes to an overhead, somewhat ethereal view – of grandmother’s room, of the family walking to the funeral, of their house lit up at night, and of her granddaughter before sleep, as she remembers her grandmother. Grandmother’s last “visit” ends the story on a hopeful and positive note.
A sensitive portrayal of a difficult issue facing many children.