Saying Goodbye to Barkley by Devon Sillett

Saying Goodbye to Barkley

Devon Sillett, Author

Nicky Johnston, Ilustrator

EK Books, Fiction, 2020/Translated into Spanish 2021

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Pet, Death, Feelings, Grief, Sharing memories, Rescue animals

Opening: Super Olivia and her amazing sidekick Barkley did everything together. Good deeds. Sniffing out clues. Catching the bad guys!

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Olivia and her dog Barkley are inseparable. He’s her first sidekick, her partner in crime-fighting. When Barkley dies Olivia is heartbroken. Olivia realizes however that Barkley would want her to share her love with a new pet. She hatches a plan to adopt a dog in need of a home. So Spud — who is very different from Barkley — joins the family. Olivia learns that loves comes in all shapes, sizes and personalities. Spud may be a hopeless sidekick, but the niche she carves in Olivia’s heart will be entirely and uniquely her own.

Why I like Saying Goodbye to Barkley:

Devon Sillett’s Saying Goodbye to Barkley is a sensitive, uplifting and heartwarming first book about death. Both children and adults will relate to the love and unbreakable bond between Barkley and his owner, Olivia. Sillett’s storytelling is compelling and her pacing keeps readers fully engaged.

Losing a pet to death may be a child’s first experience with loss and grief. Saying Goodbye to Barkley acknowledges Olivia’s feelings of sadness when she loses her best crime-fighting partner. She’s too sad to eat and sleep. She dreads waking up because her best friend isn’t snuggling by her side. 

Olivia takes her time to work through her grief and share her feelings of loss. She holds tight to her memories and realizes that Barkley wouldn’t want her to stop doing good deeds. That’s when she comes up with a plan to adopt a from the rescue shelter — not her mother’s idea — but Olivia’s. A signal to readers that Olivia is healing and ready to move on.  After all, Barkley loved rescuing people. Now it’s Olivia’s turn to rescue a dog.

Nicky Johnston’s colorful, large illustrations compliment the story showing Olivia’s journey through sadness to joy. Make sure you check out the end papers for a sweet surprise.

Resources/Activities: This is an opportunity for the children and family to share their feelings of loss and their joyful memories of their beloved pet. Encourage kids share their favorite memories of their pet, collect pictures of their pet and make a collage, draw pictures, and make a memory box. 

Devon Sillett is a former radio producer, turned writer and reviewer. She is the author of The Scaredy Book, The Leaky Book and Tabitha and the Raincloud.  Born in the US, Devon now lives in Australia. She loves books so much so that she got married in a library! Currently she teaches in the writing department at the University of Canberra, where she is also a PhD student, researching children’s picture books. If she isn’t writing or reading, you’ll find her playing with Legos or hide-an-seek with her two sons.

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 EK Books in exchange for a review. 

 

Our Table by Peter H. Reynolds

Our Table

Peter H. Reynolds, Author and Illustrator

Orchard Books, Fiction, Nov. 2, 2021

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Table, Memories, Family, Togetherness, Technical devices, Creativity, Fable 

Opening: “Violet fondly remember the table.”

Synopsis:

Violet reminisces about the many meals that she shares around the table with her family. She remembers the time they spend setting the table, preparing meals and sharing their days. Gathering with her family was a joyful part of Violet’s day.

Things begin to change and her father is planted in an over-sized chair in front of his big screen. Her mother sits on the stairway texting friends. And her brother is in his room playing games with friends. Her family is not communicating with each other. Violet is lonely as she sits at the table by herself. 

One day Violet notices that the table looks smaller. Everyday she checks the table and it continues to shrink and NO ONE in her family seems to notices because they are involved with their technical devices. Then one day “poof” the table is gone. Violet is courageous and comes up with a creative plan (a big idea) to help her family connect with one another again. She begins by climbing onto her father’s lap and asks if they can watch a special program together… (No Spoilers beyond this point.)

Why I love this book:

Our Table is a modern fable that is timeless for children and adults. It is a heartfelt, uplifting and important message for all families to balance their time connecting with each other and setting limits on their use of technical devices.  

Reynolds is a master at using spare text with his emotive illustrations that really show the story. At the beginning of the story when Violet remembers her good memories of family gatherings around the table, the illustrations are full color. When her family begins to drift, the watercolor illustrations are painted in shades or purple, showing the depth of Violet’s despair. But, Reynolds writes hopeful stories, so the illustrations return to joyous color at the end.  Our Table is an important story about human connections. With the holidays quickly approaching it offers an opportunity to be grateful. I love the quote on the back cover of the book: Remember the gift of time shared together.

Resources: Talk about fun memories you share at your table. I remember that the table in my home was the center for all family meals and talking about our day. There was always after-school treats waiting on the table. We did homework, played board and card games, did artwork projects, made homemade pinatas, gingerbread houses, baked Christmas cookies, and made gratitude trees. What are some of the memories you have about your table? 

Peter H. Reynolds is the author and illustrator of many books for children, parents, and educators alike, including The Dot, Ish, the New York Times bestseller The Word Collector and The Peace Train. He lives in Dedham, Massachusetts, where he owns a bookshop, the Blue Bunny. Learn more about Reynolds at his website.

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.
 
*Reviewed from a purchased copy.

My Red Hat by Rachel Stubbs

My Red Hat

Rachel Stubbs, Author/Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Feb. 2, 2021

Suitable for ages:  3-7

Themes: Grandfather, Red hat, Intergenerational, Memories, Possibilities

Opening: “I give you my hat.  It will keep you warm and dry or help keep you cool.”

Synopsis:

 A grandfather gives his red hat to his granddaughter, as he shares with her its many uses.  The hat will keep her warm and dry. It can help her stand out in a crowd or blend in. It can hold her dreams or hide her secrets. The hat will be ready for any adventure, hold her memories, give her strength and courage and bring her back home. It will also serve as a water bowl for her dog — love the witty humor.  

Sure to put a smile on any child’s face, this story is a beautiful intergenerational tale about the sweet and important role a grandparent plays in a grandchild’s life. The language is simple and the grandfather’s words are conveyed with love. I will admit I was prepared for the child’s return home with the grandfather no longer there. But the author pleasantly surprised me, making the ending even sweeter. This is a lovely bedtime read. 

The whimsical illustrations are done in ink and graphite, with a pallet of gray, blue and splashes of red throughout. The simple lines convey a lot of expression and love. 

Resources: Do you have a something that your grandparent gave to you? It must be something important if they want you to have it. A quilt? A favorite toy? A book? A piece of jewelry? A stamp collection? A treasure box? Does it have a special story? Talk about what it means to you. It must be something important if they want you to have it. Draw a picture of the item.     

Rachel Stubbs has a master of arts in illustration from the UK’s Cambridge School of Art and is a recipient of the Sebastian Walker Award for illustration, named for the founder of children’s book publishing companies Walker Books and Candlewick Press. Rachel Stubbs makes her home in London.

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.

 

Evelyn Del Rey is Moving Away by Meg Medina

Evelyn Del Rey is Moving Away

Meg Medina, Author

Sonia Sánchez, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Sep. 8, 2020

Suitable for ages: 5-7

Themes: Best friends, Moving, Separation, Memories,

Opening: “Evelyn Del Re is my mejor amiga, my número uno best friend. “Come play, Daniela,” she says, just like she always does. Just like today is any other day.”

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Evelyn Del Rey is Daniela’s best friend, her mejor amiga. But after today, everything will be different. After today, Evelyn won’t live in a mirror-image apartment across the street. Today Evelyn Del Rey is moving away.

The two girls spend on last afternoon together in Evelyn’s apartment, playing among the boxes, until the apartment is empty and it’s time to say their goodbyes. They promise to visit and keep in touch, and, though they will be apart, they know they will always be each other’s first best friend, their número uno.

Why I like this book:

Evelyn Del Rey is Moving Away is a touching story of about two best friends playing one last day together. They hide in big empty boxes, romp through the apartment, spin in circles, and hide from the adults.  As the house slowly empties everything familiar begins to disappear. They chat about how the many ways that they will keep in touch and seal their promise with heart stickers they press upon each other’s cheek.  A lovely reminder that best friends will always remain in our hearts even when they are separated by distance.

In Medina’s heartfelt story, she shows how the girls deep bond is mirrored with their similar apartments directly across the street from each other. And Sonia Sánchez’s glorious and emotive illustrations show a string that is strung from one bedroom window to the other — a reminder of their best friend heartstring connection. There is beauty and love on every page. This joyful account of friendship will charm readers.

Resources: Make sure you check out the teacher’s guide, activity guide and free coloring pages at Candlewick.

Meg Medina is the author of the Newbery Medal-winning book Merci Suárez Changes Gears. She is also the author of the award-winning young adult novels and the picture books Mango, Abuela, and Me, illustrated by Angela Dominguez, which as a Pura Belpré Book, and Tia Isa Wants a Car, illustrated by Claudio Munoz, which won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, she grew up in Queens, New York, and now lives in Richmond, Virginia.

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.

*Reviewed from a copy provided by Candlewick in exchange for a review.