*Starred Review* There are many books that help young children cope with death, but this is a particularly moving one—and it’s surprisingly direct about how different religions view the subject. The narrator’s grandfather, Zayde, has come to live with Rachel’s family because he is dying. Rachel and he still try to play together, but he is tired. Rachel worries about what will happen to him when he dies. Her friend Megan says Zayde will go to heaven—if he believes in Jesus. Hakim says there are milk-and-honey rivers flowing in paradise, but he must believe in Allah. “But we do not. That’s because we are Jewish.” So Rachel asks the rabbi what will happen: “He’ll take one last breath . . . Then his energy will live on with your ancestors in the World to Come.” Rather than a nebulous visual, illustrator Swarner depicts this as family dancing in a circle of love, against a blanket of stars. And Zayde, too, tells her he is at peace and that he’ll live in her love and memories. And, as she snuggles next to her grandfather, Rachel realizes that as long as there is life, another memory can still be made. The artwork, linoleum prints touched with watercolor and colored pencil, focus on the family, but juxtaposed are falling leaves and star-swept skies that add depth. Although this reverberates with the beliefs of a particular religion, the emotions and message transcend. Preschool-Grade 2. --Ilene Cooper
Sydney Taylor Honor Book Award for Younger Readers, 2013
Parents' Choice Recommended Award, 2012
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People /NCSS/CBC/ 2013
There are many books that help a young child cope with death, but this is a particularly moving one…Although this reverberates with the beliefs of a particular religion, the emotions and message transcend. --Booklist Starred Review, Nov 15, 2012
...Sinykin hits just the right balance of communication and reassurance with her storytelling, as does Swarner with her endearing and soothing illustrations. Children will relate to Rachel s concerns and appreciate the comforting and positive messages relayed in a story that takes on a difficult and important subject. --Publisher's Weekly, starred review, Oct 15, 2012
...Sinykin does a commendable job of dispelling fear with empathy and tenderness through some very direct yet positive answers to a child s uncertainty...Though Rachel's quest takes place within a Jewish context, her emotions and situation are near universal, and this artful book handles both well. --Kirkus Reviews, Sept. 1, 2012School Library Journal (ZAYDE COMES TO LIVE): The beautifully sensitive storytelling comforts readers by showing the inevitability of the circle of life in the context of strong family love. Although the book is aimed at Jewish audiences, the emotions ring true universally.
Pitch-perfect text and illustrations combine to create a story that will touch readers’ hearts.-Heidi Estrin, Congregation B’nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL