From School Library Journal
Grade 3–5—In the Silk family, a child's first birthday is a significant one: it's the day the youngster is given a name. Griffin and his five older sisters all had their special moment, but their younger sister died before her first birthday and their mother is recovering from her grief in a hospital. Griffin is attending public school for the first time in his life, has been put a grade ahead, and is having difficulty fitting in with the other kids. Then he meets Layla, who immediately connects with Griffin and his unusual family. He even shows her the elaborate Naming Day books that were created for each Silk child. But Griffin cannot bring himself to tell Layla much about his baby sister (whom he has named Tishkin), or that he is afraid that he didn't love her enough—that his jealousy caused her death and his mother's withdrawal. Slowly and patiently, Layla teases out Griffin's feelings and eventually suggests that a Naming Day party for his sister would be a wonderful event for the entire family. Tishkin's party provides the healing that the family needs and a new beginning for all. This book is a little gem. Griffin is described as an uncommon boy (he was born on February 29), but his feelings and fears are those of all children. Barton's soft pen-and-ink drawings perfectly fit this quiet story.—Terrie Dorio, Santa Monica Public Library, CA
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It hasn’t been easy for Griffin Silk since his mother and baby sister went away. Formerly homeschooled, he has a rough entry into public school, where he is teased for being younger than his classmates and for his large family. He hopes that his mother will return and fears that she won’t—a heavy secret burden—and he wonders if somehow it was his fault that she left. But with the help of classmate Layla’s caring friendship, and his family, Griffin gains insights and inner strength, and he discovers the importance of receiving and offering love and support. Illustrated with softly rendered black-and-white drawings, the gentle, descriptive narrative, touched with droll humor, intimately conveys the process of facing sorrows and discovering small joys in everyday life, and it features a likable, sympathetically drawn protagonist and other appealing, diverse characters, including Griffin’s lively older sisters and loving, reassuring grandmother. Originally published in Australia, this engaging, compassionate portrait of loss, grief, and healing has a quietly powerful impact. Grades 4-6. --Shelle Rosenfeld