Zayde Comes to Live
Illustrated by: Kristina Swarner
Published by: Peachtree Publishers Atlanta, Georgia USA 2012
Ages: 3 – 7 years
Theme: death, memories, curiosity, questions
Opening Lines: Zayde comes to live with us. It’s because he is dying. No one says this, but I know from what they do not say. From what Zayde cannot do anymore, like play hide and seek around the house. Or ball in the yard.
Synopsis: Rachel’s grandfather, Zayde, has come to live with her family. Rachel realizes this is because he is dying. Rachel can’t help wondering where he will go when he dies. She asks her friends. She asks her rabbi. She asks Zayde. No one has the perfect answer, but eventually Rachel finds a way to make peace with the fact the her grandfather will soon no longer be with her. She learns to gather all the moments she can, and to honor his life one small memory at a time. In this sensitive portrait of a young girl and her grandfather, author Sheri Sinykin approaches the issue of death from a distinctly Jewish perspective while demonstrating respect for all beliefs. Kristina Swarner’s lush, soft, illustrations add layers of depth and wonder to the story.
Why I like this: With her grandfather moving in to live with her family, Rachel sees first hand his weakness and confusion and worries about what will happen to him when he dies. After asking her friends and Rabbi, Zayde himself tries to help her understand. Sheri takes on a very delicate topic not only from the view of a little girl but also through different beliefs. I love how within the first few sentences we are aware of how sensitive children are. “I know from what they do not say..” its true children are more aware these days and should be respected. Children will be comforted by the way Rachel discovers that just being together and making the most of each moment are precious memories in themselves. Kristina’s warm soothing illustrations reflect that comfort and understanding. Her artwork, linoleum prints touched with watercolor and colored pencil compliment Sheri’s text beautifully. Although she has written many books for young readers this was Sheri’s first picture book. She lives in Massachusetts and Arizona. Kristina always wanted to be an artist since age four. She lives in Chicago.
Resources/Findings: Here is Sheri’s website… http://www.sherisinykin.com/ Here are also some valuable links for teachers and parents on loss and grief available at Sheri’s website… http://www.sherisinykin.com/loss_&_grief_handouts.htm
Here is Kristina’s website… http://www.kristinaswarner.com/
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