The Scar

( 1 )

Overview

A little boy responds to his mother's death in a genuine, deeply moving story leavened by glimmers of humor and captivating illustrations.

When the boy in this story wakes to find that his mother has died, he is overwhelmed with sadness, anger, and fear that he will forget her. He shuts all the windows to keep in his mother's familiar smell and scratches open the cut on his knee to remember her comforting voice. He doesn't know how to speak to his dad anymore, and when Grandma ...

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Overview

A little boy responds to his mother's death in a genuine, deeply moving story leavened by glimmers of humor and captivating illustrations.

When the boy in this story wakes to find that his mother has died, he is overwhelmed with sadness, anger, and fear that he will forget her. He shuts all the windows to keep in his mother's familiar smell and scratches open the cut on his knee to remember her comforting voice. He doesn't know how to speak to his dad anymore, and when Grandma visits and throws open the windows, it's more than the boy can take--until his grandmother shows him another way to feel that his mom's love is near. With tenderness, touches of humor, and unflinching emotional truth, Charlotte Moundlic captures the loneliness of grief through the eyes of a child, rendered with sympathy and charm in Olivier Tallec's expressive illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Moundlic’s English-language debut opens at an exquisitely painful moment; the boy narrator’s father tells him that his terminally ill mother has died overnight. Moundlic captures the raw, unmanageable feelings that sweep over the boy: rage (“ ‘Well, good riddance!’ I yelled to Dad. I couldn’t believe she’d left us”), melancholy (“I’m trying not to forget what Mom smells like”), and an especially moving concern for his newly widowed father (“He won’t be able to manage without her”). As the boy struggles to master his feelings, his grief collides with his father’s and his grandmother’s. A scrape on his knee recalls his mother’s consoling voice (“It’s just a scratch, my little man”); as it starts to heal, the boy does, too. Both Moundlic and Tallec leaven sadness with humor, Moundlic in words (“ ‘It’s me!’ I shout... which is dumb, since Dad knows that we’re the only two here”) and Tallec (the Big Wolf and Little Wolf books) with lighthearted, impishly sketched artwork. An invaluable resource for adults who need to understand what grief means to a child—and perhaps for a grieving child, as a roadmap through it. Ages 5–up. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
THE SCAR handles its excruciating subject matter beautifully... Tallec's red-infused acrylic and pencil drawings convey the boy's every expression with a sensitivity and heart that will move children and adults alike.
—The New York Times

An invaluable resource for adults who need to understand what grief means to a child-and perhaps for a grieving child, as a roadmap through it.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

When his mother dies, a little boy reacts honestly to his profound loss in this poignant snapshot of grief. The boy candidly describes his loss and concern for his grieving father with heartfelt immediacy. Simple illustrations stress the boy's distress and isolation while powerfully conveying his progression from anger and fear to sadness and acceptance.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Children's Literature - Sara Lorimer
This is not a book to be read for pleasure. A young boy's mother has died after an illness, and he tells us about his feelings over the next few days. It is a beautiful book, both in the writing and the illustrations, and I cannot read it without crying (note: I am a big softy). The jumble of feelings you go through after a death is described well, with the boy angry one moment, sad the next, and lonely throughout: "Luckily, I'm still here, and I can explain [how to make toast properly] to Dad. I told him, ?Don't worry, I'll take care of you.' And I cried a little because I didn't really know how to take care of a dad who's been abandoned like this." Although there's no happy ending, things are calmer at the end of the story and there's even a teeny bit of hope. Younger children who are going through their "what is death?" phase might want to be read this, as will older kids who appreciate deep feelings and complicated emotions. The illustrations, almost entirely red with white details, are simple and evocative. Reviewer: Sara Lorimer
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—This book about loss and grief is all honesty, and the story is very much from a child's egocentric perspective. A boy is angry when his mother tells him that she is going away forever, and he yells at her that she shouldn't have had a kid if she were going to leave. When she dies, he worries that she never taught his father how to make toast properly. He feels the loss deeply but cannot put it into philosophical terms. He tries to capture his mother's smell by keeping the windows closed in the hot summer weather and thinks that by scraping his knee he will hear her voice saying, "It's just a scratch, my little man." When his grandmother points out that his mother will always be with him in his heart, he likes to run so he can feel his heart beating and know she is with him. One morning he wakes to find that his scrape has scabbed over and healed, much like his grief. The artwork, primarily red, focuses on the child throughout as he works through his feelings. The last page is particularly soothing as he puts his hand over his heart, feels it beating, and lets it lull him to sleep. This is an important addition to the canon of books on death for young children, showing beautifully how a child interprets the loss he is experiencing but has trouble naming. Libraries will want to have this title on hand for those children who need it.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Kirkus Reviews
When his mother dies, a little boy reacts honestly to his profound loss in this poignant snapshot of grief. The day after realizing his ailing mother is "really going to die," a boy awakens to his father's devastating announcement: "She's gone forever." Furious with his mother for leaving, the boy angrily lashes out, "Well, good riddance," then worries how his devastated father will manage. Initially, the boy doesn't want to sleep and has a "bit of a stomachache." He closes the windows to contain his mother's scent and plugs his ears, covers his eyes and shuts his mouth to preserve the sound of her voice. After scraping his knee, he feels comforted by the memory of his mother assuring him he's "too strong for anything to hurt." Healing begins when Grandma suggests his mother's still in his heart. He feels her beating there. Speaking in first person, present tense, the boy candidly describes his loss and concern for his grieving father with heartfelt immediacy. Rendered in pencil and wash in a limited palette of reds and yellows, simple illustrations stress the boy's distress and isolation while powerfully conveying his progression from anger and fear to sadness and acceptance. A sympathetic exploration of the stages of grief through the eyes of one little boy. (Picture book. 5 & up)
Pamela Paul
…handles its excruciating subject matter beautifully…Tallec's red-infused acrylic and pencil drawings convey the boy's every expression with a sensitivity and heart that will move children and adults alike.
—The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763653415
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 11/8/2011
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 594,055
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.04 (w) x 9.72 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Charlotte Moundlic is the art director at Père Castor and the author of several French books for young readers. She lives in Paris.

Olivier Tallec graduated from the École Supérieure des Arts Appliqués Duperré in Paris and worked in advertising as a graphic designer before devoting himself to illustration. His work has appeared in many newspapers and magazines, and he has illustrated more than sixty books for children. Olivier Tallec lives in Paris.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 16, 2012

    This book touched my heart. It encompassed the range of emotions

    This book touched my heart. It encompassed the range of emotions in a small child whose mother has just died and offered hope for the healing process. Wonderfully told!

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