Drawing from her own family background, Greenwood has penned a story which will resonate with children experiencing feelings of loss and abandonment due to the incarceration of a family member. The unnamed narrator is a young girl who is sad that her brother no longer lives with her and her parents. She misses his storytelling and remembers when they would fly kites or when he carried her on his shoulders as they gazed at the stars. Her classmates and the neighborhood children ask where he is, but the only answer she gives is that he is busy, even though she would like to say that he is at a job or with friends. One day a student reveals to everyone on the school playground that the “brother did something bad,” and the young girl goes through the emotions of embarrassment and then anger directed at her brother. Her parents comfort her and explain that they will visit her brother soon. After a long trip, the family arrives at a “building ringed with silver fences,”-a prison. The siblings reunite, and the girl understands that even though he is not at home he still loves her. As she sees the other family visitors, she realizes she is not alone in this situation. In the author’s note, Greenwood reveals that her own brother was incarcerated for eight years when she was a child. Just like the narrator in this story, the author felt alone and was comforted by seeing other visitors at the prison. Uribe’s illustrations are done in Photoshop. The colors are soft and muted, which help create a melancholy, but reassuring, tone.
THOUGHTS: This picture book handles a sensitive topic in a way that is accessible to young children and will be appreciated by families and guidance counselors. A touching story that is a must-have for elementary collections.
Picture Book Denise Medwick, PSLA Member, Retired