The Boy and the Gorilla by Jackie Azua Kramer

 

The Boy and the Gorilla

Jackie Azúa Kramer, Author

Cindy Derby, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Oct. 13, 2020

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Loss, Grief, Hurt, Loneliness, Anger, Imaginary friend

Publisher’s Synopsis:

On the day of his mother’s funeral, a young boy conjures the very visitor he needs to see: a gorilla. Wise and gentle, the gorilla stays on to answer the heart-heavy questions the boy hesitates to ask his father: Where did his mother go? Will she come back home? Will we all die? Yet with the gorilla’s friendship, the boy slowly begins to discover moments of comfort in tending flowers, playing catch, flying a kite, climbing trees and walking along the beach. Most of all, the gorilla knows that it helps to simply talk about the loss—especially with those who share your grief and who may feel alone, too.

Author Jackie Azúa Kramer’s quietly thoughtful text and illustrator Cindy Derby’s beautiful impressionistic artwork depict how this tender relationship leads the boy to open up to his father and find a path forward. Told entirely in dialogue, this direct and deeply affecting picture book will inspire conversations about grief, empathy, and healing beyond the final hope-filled scene.

This profoundly moving tale about a grieving boy and an imaginary gorilla makes real the power of talking about loss.

Why I like this book:

A deeply sensitive story about a grieving boy who asks his imaginary gorilla friend questions about his mother’s death. The  gorilla is reassuring and helps the boy deal with big emotions. Grief is tricky and the gorilla’s presence makes it possible for the boy to approach his grieving father. Together they begin to share memories and start the healing process.

The first four pages of the story are wordless, allowing Cindy Derby to set the somber tone of the boy’s grief with her moving and breathtaking watercolors. The opening pages are intimate and contemplative. Jackie Azúa Kramer’s simple text and Derby’s artwork don’t hurry you along — they provide time and space to study what’s happening and gives children the opportunity to ask questions.  As the story progresses, the artwork appears more luminous and hopeful.

This is a timely book and beautiful book during this time of COVID. It is a book that would be a wonderful gift to families dealing with loss.

Resources: The book alone is a wonderful resource for families.  It opens the doors for families to work at healing together. Encourage your child to make a memory box filled with things that remind them of the person they miss.

Jackie Azúa Kramer is the author of The Green Umbrella and If You Want to Fall Asleep.  She was previously an actress, singer, and school counselor. She lives with her family on Long Island, New York.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided by Candlewick in exchange for a review.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

21 thoughts on “The Boy and the Gorilla by Jackie Azua Kramer

  1. This would be a perfect gift for those dealing with loss, especially in this socially-distanced time when so many families can’t grieve together. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    • Yes, I am holding onto my copy. It’s a perfect book to have on hand when a child is dealing with a death of a family members and even a pet. I remember my vivid imagine as a child in the 50s when I attended many funerals/wakes of great aunts etc. No one really said much, so I figured out on my own how they got to heaven. So it is better to be honest and talk with kids.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think this is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s on my desk. I keep looking at it. Sitting with the language and illustrations. It’s so meditative. So soothing. Just beautiful!

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  3. This books sounds lovely. I really like the idea of the first few pages being wordless, allowing the ‘readers’ to see, feel and experience. It’s an important book at any time, but especially now. I wish I’d had it when my sister passed leaving 3 children under the age of 10.

    Like

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