Addy’s Cup of Sugar

Muth, Jon J. Addy’s Cup of Sugar: Based on a Buddhist Story of Healing. New York: Scholastic Press, 2020.
How do we carry on after a loved one has died? That is the question in another picture book about grief. Similar to The Boy and the Gorilla, this story depicts a helper. Stillwater, a giant panda who has appeared in previous books by Jon Muth, teaches Addy how to recover from grief after her beloved kitten is hit by a car. She is sent to borrow a cup of sugar from someone who has never experienced loss. By the end of the day, she realizes that everyone has suffered the desolation of losing loved ones. She is not alone in her pain. And she still has a heart full of loving memories. This story, with its full-page watercolour and pencil illustrations, will appeal to readers of all ages and all faiths. Highly recommended. 

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The Boy and the Gorilla

Kramer, Jackie. Azúa. The Boy and the Gorilla. Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, 2020.
A young boy, missing his mother, converses with an imaginary gorilla. Where do loved ones go when they die? How do we remember those no longer with us? How do we learn to go on with life? Softly illustrated by Cindy Derby, this short gentle story will prompt reader’s own conversations about death and grief. Recommended for children 5 to 8 years old.
P.S. Always take the time to look at a picture book by Candlewick Press.

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My Father’s Words

Dear Reader,

You said that you are looking for more novels about serious topics written at an easy reading level. You already know that Patricia MacLachlan’s novels are poetry written as prose. You already know that her stories heal invisible wounds. And you know she addresses life’s biggest questions. So, here is another novel for you:

MacLachlan, Patricia. My Father’s Words. New York: Katherine Tegen Books, 2018.

Fiona and Finn love their father. Declan sang songs as he played basketball with them. He patiently offered words of wisdom when life was difficult. But now he is gone, killed in a car accident. Their mother buries herself in studies for a degree. Finn stops speaking. Fiona, the narrator of the story, struggles to help them all. Luke, a friend, suggests volunteering at an animal shelter. Talking to the dogs, reading to them, singing to them, and taking them on walks slowly eases their grief. Slowly, comfort comes as they remember their father’s words. 

The large font, wide margins, and wide spaces between the lines of print will enable you to read the 134 pages within a few days. When you’re finished, come tell me the words of wisdom you will keep in your memory. 

wishing you a thoughtful day,
Ms. R. 

Links to Youtube performances of Declan’s favourite song: Grant Us Peace and Dona Nobis Pacem

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.”
William Shakespeare

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Defiance

Dear Reader,

What are signs that you are growing up? That you are starting to leave childhood behind and starting to become a young adult? It can’t be that you merely want to make decisions for yourself. Two-year-olds want to make decisions for themselves. It can’t be that you secretly do things your parents forbid. Most children of all ages at least occasionally disobey their parents. So how does thinking for yourself and making your own decisions show maturity rather than mere selfishness?

Hobbs, Valerie. Defiance. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2005. 

Eleven-year-old Toby wants to have fun. His parents want to protect him from any possible danger. Toby has cancer. His mother wants him to stay close to their cabin in the country, out of the sun and away from anything that could cause him to get hurt or even tired. He wants to go exploring. So he does. He wakes up early in the morning, sneaks off on his bicycle, and meets an elderly neighbour, Pearl, and her old cow, Blossom. They become friends and life changes for Toby.This story is about growing up, about learning to think for yourself without thinking only about yourself. 

The reading level of this book is not difficult. There are only 117 pages and the lines on each page are spaced far enough apart to be easy on the eyes. But there is a lot to ponder in this story. So don’t read it when you are in the mood for a quickly-paced humorous story. Read it when you have the time to slow down and consider this question: What is the meaning of life?

Ms. R.

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Happy Easter!

He is risen!

People die and come back to life in many religions.

Christianity’s most important story focuses on a character who is resurrected from the dead. Jesus, a Jewish teacher living in Israel during ancient Roman times, is viewed as a threat to society. He is sentenced to crucifixion on a cross. But three days after he dies, he comes back to life just as he’d promised. He is seen by several people. He speaks with them, spends time with them, and gives them hope. They spread the good news that God – in the form of a man – came down to earth to redeem all people from death, so that they could live forever. Every spring, Christians celebrate this miracle of life over death.

“A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.” – Mahatma Gandhi

French, Fiona. Easter: with words from the King James Version. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.

Grimes, Nikki. At Jerusalem’s Gate: Poems of Easter. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2005. 

Hendrix, John. Miracle Man: the Story of Jesus. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2016. 

“This picture book written and illustrated by John Hendrix focuses on the Biblical accounts of miracles performed by Jesus and concludes with the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. There is a detailed author’s note and a list of Biblical passages.”– Provided by publisher.

Wildsmith, Brian. The Easter Story. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2000.

An overview of world religions

Novels and picture books about faith

What do you see?

“Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.” – E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web

Wung-Sung, Jesper. The Last Execution. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016. Translated by Lindy Falk van Rooyen.
Chapter by chapter, the final hours count down to the last execution in Danish history. Chapter by chapter, eleven bystanders reveal their thoughts about the 15-year-old boy accused of arson and murder.  And in each chapter, we also hear the voice of that forlorn and forsaken boy. Based on a true story from 1853, this heart-wrenching novel of poverty and prejudice is highly recommended for thoughtful readers 14 years old and up. 

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