Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Some Days written and illustrated by María Wernicke

This has been a year of loss for so many people, but for children who have lost a parent, it is an especially devastating loss. It may be hard for them to understand fully what has happened, and often wishful thinking can easily move into their thoughts. María Wernicke has used very sparse text supported by spare illustrations to capture the emotional feelings and wishes of one young girl dealing with loss and how her mother responds to her pain. 

Some Days written and illustrated by María Wernicke,
translated by Lawrence Schimel
Amazon Crossing Kids, 2020, 48 pages 

After finishing a meal, a young girl begins telling her mother about a passageway in their backyard. As the two head out to hang up some freshly washed red sheets, the child explains that some days, it's there, other days, it isn't, but she makes it clear that this isn't some kind of fantasy passageway - it's not a well, a hollow in a tree and there is no door that leads to fantastic adventures.  

On the other side of the passageway, life is different. The child plays with an unknown man, presumably her father. There, in his presence, "I've already learned how to swim./ And it's not cold,/ and there's no danger./ And nothing, nothing at all, can can happen to you." Yearning for the safe and comforting arms of this man, the little girl wishes that passageway could be there everyday.

After listening to her child tell her about this passageway and what she finds there, her understanding mother tells her daughter that they can always go looking for it together, even if they don't always see it.

Without saying it, but relying on the illustrations, it is clear the this little girl and her mother have just lost their father and husband, indicated only by their grief and the pork pie that plays an important but subtle part of the narrative. There is an interesting use of color throughout the story. The parts of the story that revolves around the girl and her mother are done in shades of gray, reflecting the somber mood of mourning and grief, with the exception of the sheets being hung on the line which serve as the portal to the other side of the passageway. On the other side, the girl is still dressed in gray, but the unnamed man is done in a bold, bright red coat, letting the reader know that he is still very much alive in his daughter's mind, even as she grieves.

This is a gentle, solemn, very poignant story about a child dealing with loss and missing all the things that might have been had the loved one not passed away. But it is also a story that carries a great deal of hope and love and a promise of a future that also includes the memories of the past. This is the kind of book I wish I'd had when my Kiddo's dad suddenly passed away when she was young. It is the kind of book that will start needed conversations. I highly recommend it.

Meet the Author:

María Wernicke is an award-winning Argentinian author and illustrator of children’s books. She is a 2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award nominee. Her illustrations have been part of multiple international exhibits, including at the Bratislava Biennial exhibition and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, among others. Learn more about the author at www.maria

On Instagram: @wernicke_maria

Meet the Translator:

Lawrence Schimel is a bilingual author and translator, with more than one hundred books to his credit. His children’s books have won a Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and have been selected for lists of outstanding titles by the International Board on Books for Young People. His translated books include Wanda Gàg’s Millions of Cats and George Takei’s graphic novel They Called Us Enemy, among many others. He lives in Madrid, Spain.

Read the Reviews:

★“A gentle model for living while missing a loved one.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“This brief, wistful exchange between a mother and her child delivers its emotion between the lines, and Schimel’s translation handles the understatement deftly…Wernicke shows the two twirled up in another set of sheets, looking for the passageway together, in this portrait of a parent who hears and honors her child’s words.” —Publishers Weekly

This book is recommended for readers age 5+
This book was gratefully received from Barbara Fisch at Blue Slip Media

1 comment:

Imagination Designs