Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



What is Goodbye?

What is Goodbye?

Fall 2004 Poetry
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Nikki Grimes
Illustrator: Raul Colon
ISBN: 0-7868-5148-1
Hardcover Price: $15.99
Review:
In this heartbreaking story told in poetry, readers become immersed in the world of a family suddenly coping with the loss of a child. Siblings Jerilyn and Jesse struggle to make sense of the death of their oldest brother, Jaron, and must work through a host of emotions, from shock to fear and anger, and eventually even to the relief of ordinariness. The poems written in rhyme and occasional free verse, are beautifully structured with an alternating point of view. Jerilyn and Jesse tell their own difficult stories, but through them we also get a picture of a family in crisis, whose “hurt is like a tunnel,” and where the children feel they must care for their parents, “to keep them from bumping / into walls.” The surrealist illustrations by Raul Colon add to the feeling of disorientation. They also reflect the griever’s sense of trying to express the unfathomable. It’s a tough book to read, given the heart-wrenching subject matter; parents should be prepared to read it as well, and to discuss it with their children. Corretta Scott King Award-winning author Nikki Grimes lost her own father in childhood, an experience which inspired her to write a book that would, hopefully, help children put words to their pain. But despite the raw wounds depicted here, Grimes’ words also give reassurance that there is a way out of the tunnel—the last words we hear from Jesse and Jerilyn are: “Whole again! / Smile!”.
Zarina Mullan Plath   ©2004 Parents' Choice
Zarina Mullan Plath has undergraduate degrees in both biology and English. Her interests include cookbooks/culinary history, South Asian literature (especially in regards to South Asians in America), and, of course, children's literature. Her poetry is included in the anthology Sweeping Beauty (U. of Iowa Press, 2005). Zarina lives in Central Illinois with her husband, two children, and assorted pets.


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