From School Library Journal
Grade 1-4-A sad young girl readies herself for her beloved grandfather's funeral. Soon relatives gather to share prayer, food, and stories. Sarah's story, however, remains "stuck there in the back of my throat" until an uncle reminds her that her grandfather always said, "Everything and everyone goes on and on." That "sweet memory" finally brings a smile to her face and to the faces of others who recall that he told them the same thing. And life does go on for the girl and her grandmother. There is much to like about this lyrical text, but there are some jarring transitions as well. It is also difficult to believe that a child who is combing her hair by herself for the first time would utter sentences like, "The house is hushed and golden," and "Outside, the sun fades and the crickets' song grows loud." Still, the repetition of "everything and everyone goes on and on" is well paced throughout the text and delineated in the movement of seasons, and memories of the deceased man continuing to live on in the hearts and minds of those who loved him. Cooper's signature soft-textured illustrations are the perfect complement for Woodson's gentle text. They are large, framed in the same cream-colored background on which the text is placed, and spill over onto each facing page. Cooper's faces are filled with a range of emotions, from sorrow to joy to determination to continue with the business of living.Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community College, CT
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Ages 5-8. Woodson's words will resonate with those who have lost someone dear. The young narrator is wearing a white dress, and there is no one to help her comb her hair. Children slowly come to realize the reason the house is hushed is because Grandpa has died. As the narrative unfolds, relatives gather and tell stories, but the little girl's story is stuck in her throat. Finally, she is able to repeat Grandpa's words, "Everything and everyone goes on and on." Afterward, the girl does as her grandfather advised: she watches the world. She watches for Grandpa's collards, cabbage, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes to be harvested; everything is a sweet memory. The elegant text is matched by Cooper's images, which manage to be both dreamy and strong. Unfortunately, the jacket painting looks confusingly similar to that of another book reviewed in this issue, Amy Littlesugar's Freedom School, Yes!
, on p.1155 Inside, though, the story is distinctive: its emotional context is clearly portrayed as a family's sorrow and joy come to the fore. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved