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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Since I have the very best grandchildren in the whole wide world, it was inevitable that I would adore "Sun & Spoon"—a book about a grandson seeking a special something to remind him of his recently deceased grandmother. It certainly helped that the story is exceptionally well told and very well written.
Having just published a book about grandparents, I particularly liked the fact that the plot around which this book revolves will have significant meaning to children who have lost a grandparent, or any loved one. Even adults can't adequately prepare for the loss of someone who has been an integral part of their lives. But children, especially, can be confused by the emotions they feel at such a time. For many, the passing away of a grandparent may well be the first time they are confronted with the upheaval that such a death causes to the immediate family. By reading "Sun & Spoon," children faced with the death of a loved one will be comforted in learning that they are not alone in the feelings that come over them during this difficult time. And the coping suggestions subtly made in the book—making a notebook about the deceased grandparent and finding a special memento—are very valuable ones that will hopefully be imitated by many readers.
Henkes is an experienced writer, so he makes sure that it's not just the relationship between ten-year-old Spoon and his late grandmother that unfolds but also those between Spoon and his younger sister, his parents, his older brother, and his grandfather. In each instance, the reader picks up useful insights on theinteractions that take place within a family—information that can be very helpful in dealing with real-life relationships they may encounter within their own family. Of particular importance is the reaction of Spoon's grandfather to losing his wife—his sadness, the changes in his habits. Sometimes it is harder for children to deal with the changes that take place within the character of the surviving spouse than the emotions caused by the disappearance of the person that died, because the personality changes in the survivor are constantly visible to children.
Children may try to push the deceased person out of their mind in order not to have to deal with the pain that accompanies the memories. It is very important that this does not occur, because emotions that are buried can cause more damage later on. Yet parents are prone to protect their children, even though by doing so they are not allowing them to come to terms with the process of mourning. Pyschologically speaking, Spoon's insistence of trying to keep his grandmother's memory alive is a very important example to give to children.
And then, like the chocolate nestled in the center of a Tootsie Pop, is the lesson learned about telling the truth. Subtly delivered, because Spoon's lie is not really so bad, the message comes across more strongly, I believe, than if Spoon had lied maliciously. He finds himself in a situation that any kid might, torn between revealing what he's done or merely trying to right the wrong. His choice is not the easy way out, but the right way.
Rereading what I have written, I see that I've used the word "subtly" several times, and it is that quality that I find of special value. The topic of death is not one easily dealt with, which is why I believe that Henkes should be congratulated for handling it with care while at the same time creating a story that will interest and offer valuable advice to all children, even those who haven't yet had to deal with death.
I heartily recommend "Sun & Spoon." Though I would like to believe that I will last forever, I know the time will come when my grandchildren will have to face the loss of their Omi [grandmother], just as they have already lost their grandfather. I could wish them no better tool to help them deal with such circumstances than to read this book. Recommended for ages 8 and up.—Dr. Ruth Westheimer