There are moments when a kid strikes upon just the right thing, and magic happens. In these two books, kids transform something difficult into a tender and wonderful moment, just by chance and instinct, and the magic of a connection is formed.
A Song for My Sister
by Lesley Simpson
ISBN: 978 1 58246 427 5
Mira’s wish for a sister comes true at long last, but the baby, when she finally arrives, has some serious lung power, and Mira is none too impressed. By the time her naming ceremony comes around, Mira is suggesting they call her Siren or Thunder in honour of her ear-splitting wails, but as the family and rabbi go through the ceremony together, something amazing happens. Mira sings to her, and she not only stops crying, but sings back! Her name is bestowed accordingly, and Mira has a new wish.
This is not the first book to star a sibling who finally finds out what quiets a crying babe, but it is a nice addition to the list, and certainly one of very few books I know of that pays close attention to the simchat bat, the naming ceremony for Jewish babies. Sweet but not saccharine, this would be a great book for a new or soon-to-be sister.
Really and Truly
by Emilie Rivard and Anne-Claire Delisle
ISBN: 978 1 92697 340 1
A little boy recalls outlandish stories that his imaginative grandpa used to tell him about creatures that lived around his house – witches, gnomes, and the like. He doesn’t live in that house anymore, and the family now goes to visit him in a nursing home, where he lives with Alzheimer’s and often doesn’t respond at all, let alone tell stories or smile.
One day, though, the boy recalls how much joy those stories brought him, and decides to try one out on his grandpa. With one story, he gets him to turn away from the window. With another, he gets him to eat some dinner.At last, he even manages to find a smile deep inside his grandpa. The book doesn’t suggest this is a perfect answer, and the boy knows that his grandpa might not recognize them again on their next visit, but he has found a way to make a connection and bring a little bit of his grandpa’s old self back, if only for a few moments.
This is a touching story, and a really nice way to approach a disease that steals the person a child used to know. It doesn’t pretend to be an answer or that everything will go back to how it was, but it does give a little bit of hope and explain that the grandparent they knew may be still in there, just locked away most of the time. The illustrations are fun without being irreverent about a serious topic, and the pitch is just really nice for a child with this happening in their family.