Publishers WeeklyLondner (Ruby’s Whistle) and Avilés (The Shabbat Princess) present a small boy as he observes two of the distinctly Jewish rituals of mourning: the unveiling of his beloved grandfather’s tombstone (which traditionally occurs one year after a death) and the placing of stones on the tombstone by visitors to the grave (“It’s a way of showing that we have been here to remember,” explains the boy’s father). The event prompts melancholy reflection on Jewish holidays that have passed without Grandpa (“It was the first Hanukkah without Grandpa spinning his lucky dreidel”), but the rituals also help the boy understand that “memories made of someone you love never get lost.” Londner handles a difficult topic with great sensitivity and admirable restraint, while Avilés’s verdant scenes at the cemetery are beautifully realized; she reassures children that this sad and even scary setting can be a place of solace and fond celebration. Ages 5�9. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia MarantzIt has been a year since our young narrator's grandfather died; he has been missed at all the occasions they used to share on the Jewish holidays. The youngster's mother has tried to help with a memory box, but his favorite memories of good times together remain inside him. She reassures him, "Memories of someone you love never get lost." After a year, when it is time for the traditional unveiling of grandfather's headstone, family and friends gather at the cemetery. Everyone then places small stones on the tombstone and adds meaningful stories for laughter and teas. One final act of bravery by the boy goes along with the memories. Aviles includes many visual details of the well-kept cemetery and stones as well as of the scenes of family togetherness. She simplifies her naturalistic style for the characters, along with an overarching sense of peace. Along with information about the Jewish traditions, this is a helpful treatment of dealing with the death of a relative. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Kirkus ReviewsWriting a picture book about grief is a difficult job; Londner accomplishes it by writing about something else: life. This is a story that works because it has more detail than necessary. When the narrator is remembering his grandfather, he's very specific: "Grandpa taught me how to tie six different Boy Scout knots." When Avilés draws Grandpa in a cowboy hat (he's marching in a parade for Purim), a gold star is pinned on the front. This is a book about gravestones and memorial services, but even a scene in a cemetery includes more than one emotion: "People smile when they see the name ‘Duke' along with Grandpa's real name. That was his nickname....Grandpa Duke and I watched John Wayne movies together, and he let me wear his cowboy hat." This is a story about grief, but it's also about cowboys and parades and the best way to catch a frog, and some readers may have the strange experience of missing a person they never knew. The story is so very packed with detail it's as though the author wanted to write one that contained all of life. She didn't succeed, of course. It would have been impossible. This is a book that celebrates a life, full of Boy Scout knots and costume parties, and that's more than enough. (Picture book. 5-9)
- Kar-Ben Publishing
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 9.30(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.10(d)
- Age Range:
- 4 - 7 Years
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Stones for Grandpa based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
My father died unexpectedly and my daughter's pre-K teachers took this out of the school library for her (and dedicated the book to the memory of my father). It was the only book that made her feel better and reminded her of all of the wonderful memories of her grandfather. I've now ordered our own copy so we can read it together for a long time. I highly recommend this book for any Jewish child who recently lost a loved one.