Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Goodbye Cancer Garden

The Goodbye Cancer Garden
Written by Janna Matthies. Illustrated by Kristi Valiant.
Albert Whitman, 2011. Unpaged picture book.

Young siblings Janie and Jeffrey are faced with the news that their mother has breast cancer. They watch as she undergoes surgeries and chemotherapy, and later loses her hair. Jeffrey gets the idea to plant a "Goodbye Cancer Garden" to mark the time as Mom's treatment goes on. They work on it together as a family that spring. By the time the fruits and vegetables have grown in the fall, Mom is much better. They are able to say "Goodbye, Cancer!" as they celebrate Mom's health along with the bounty of their garden.

Janna Matthies handles this topic with sensitivity, and uses age-appropriate language. I love that this family never dwells on the seriousness of cancer. Rather, they celebrate what they've got and work together to nurture their garden. Kristi Valiant's illustrations are in keeping with the sunshiney tone of the book. I think anyone can enjoy this bright picture book, but it's a special gift for those working through this specific situation.

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