Bravery has many meanings. Jerome's mom is a sailor. When her ship is in home port, she and Jerome bake cookies, read books together, and take their dog, Duffy, for walks. When his mom's ship goes to sea, she gives Jerome a hug and says, "Be brave, Jerome. I'll be back as soon as I can." Jerome doesn't feel brave at all. But he does what he needs to do every day—goes to school, helps his dad with chores, and takes care of Duffy. Then one day he learns that bravery means something very different than he thought ...
Bravery has many meanings. Jerome's mom is a sailor. When her ship is in home port, she and Jerome bake cookies, read books together, and take their dog, Duffy, for walks. When his mom's ship goes to sea, she gives Jerome a hug and says, "Be brave, Jerome. I'll be back as soon as I can." Jerome doesn't feel brave at all. But he does what he needs to do every day—goes to school, helps his dad with chores, and takes care of Duffy. Then one day he learns that bravery means something very different than he thought it did. Pat Brisson's endearing story, a Society of School Librarians International Honor Book and lovingly illustrated by France Brassard, shows how a Navy family adjusts to life while mom is serving at sea.
Jerome's mom is a sailor in the Navy. She travels on the sea and is gone for long periods of time. Jerome struggles to fill his days with happy thoughts while his mom is away. He tries very hard to be brave, but he has a hard time accomplishing this. Jerome's dog, Duffy, has a hard time being brave as well. His dad takes good care of him while his mom is away, but it's just not the same. Some days are good, like when Dad buys Jerome special gifts or gives him an ice cream cone. Some days are bad, like when Jerome has nightmares and accidentally wets his bed. Fortunately, Duffy is there to go through the experiences with him and provide support. This touching story gives a child's perspective of what it's like to live with one parent in the military. This story involves subject matter about love, the definition of family, coping with loss, and the relationship between a boy and his dog. This beautifully illustrated picture book will make a nice addition in an elementary school's library as well as an English or social studies class. Reviewer: Cheryl Williams Chang
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—This story addresses the difficulties associated with a parent's absence. Jerome tells how much he and his dog miss his mother when her job as a sailor takes her away from home, even though his dad takes good care of him. Sometimes he is happy. At other times, though, Jerome and Duffy are afraid, act out at school, or have accidents. Bedwetting is handled in a calm manner. Dad says, "That's okay, Jerome. That's why God invented washing machines and bathtubs." Jerome worries about himself and Duffy, who acts as something of a surrogate for Jerome's own experiences. The text is positive about Dad, but the watercolor illustrations oddly distance him. He is rarely shown with Jerome and never with the whole family. The focus is on Jerome, Duffy, and Mom almost exclusively. The pictures reflect the sentimental tone by showing everything as clean, pretty, and sunny. Even the difficult times do not appear very threatening. In a storm scene Jerome is asleep; when he gets in trouble at school, the picture is of him sitting in the principal's office rather than the fight itself. The story ends with Jerome anticipating rather than experiencing his mother's homecoming. By not having a tidy conclusion, the author leaves the story a bit open and more relatable for children who are also still waiting for the return of a loved one.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Jerome's mom is in the Navy. When the ship is in port, she “comes home every night” and family time is normal: “We bake cookies together. We read books. We take our dog, Duffy, for walks.” But when Mom ships out and it's just Jerome and his dad, Jerome gets into fights at school, wets his bed, and can't sleep during a storm (“Is the storm out by Mom's ship, too?”). Brassard's (Lily and the Mixed-Up Letters) characters sometimes have a glazed look, though her intimate, documentary framings give the vignettes the ring of verisimilitude. The combined effect of the watercolors and Brisson's (I Remember Miss Perry) bluntly honest prose is powerful: readers of all ages will come away feeling protective of this struggling little boy. Even when subsequent readings raise troubling issues (like Dad's peripheral visual presence, and Jerome's parents' preternatural ability to be consistently firm, patient, and emotionally available), kids in Jerome's situation—and those curious about how it feels to be there—should find this book immensely comforting and reassuring. Ages 5–7. (Jan.)
As the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan drag on, more families will face the difficult separation that comes with military service. While war isn't explicitly mentioned here, the mom in the story is a sailor in the Navy and the impact of her absence is strongly felt. Narrated by her son, who appears to be early-elementary age, the focus is on the things that happen while she's away. Jerome's father does his best to soothe his fears and spend quality time with him. Jerome, meanwhile, tries to fulfill his mother's request that he "be brave," though his inner turmoil sometimes prompts bad behavior. Brisson's lengthy text is straightforward and clearly intended to reassure young children in similar situations. Breaking the text into sections helps the flow while also making the passing of time apparent. Brassard's watercolor illustrations are realistic with a varied perspective that adds interest. Faces are occasionally awkwardly proportioned, but Jerome's dog Duffy is uniformly appealing, and his presence helps to lighten the overall mood. Earnest and effective. (Picture book. 4-8)