It’s time for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!
Thanks to The Brown Bookshelf‘s feature on Lucille Clifton last month, I discovered her picture books. But it wasn’t easy to find them on a library shelf in San Francisco. They were sidelined in the “historical children’s” section of the Main San Francisco Public Library. Three were available for circulation: Everett Anderson’s Goodbye (Coretta Scott King Award winner), Some of the Days of Everett Anderson, and Everett Anderson’s Year.
I found the first so moving, I am compelled to feature it as a perfect picture book:
The dedication reads “for my sad friends.”
And then another illustration of the boy looking over the reader’s shoulder, searching for someone he’ s lost.
The next page serves as a table of contents:
The Five Stages of Grief
In these five brief poems, Clifton captures the boy’s voice and internal experience as he comes to terms with the death of his father.
Here is Everett Anderson’s anger:
“I don’t love Baby Evelyn
and I don’t love Mr. Perry, too,
and I don’t love Christmas or
and I don’t love candy
and I don’t love you!”
Everett Anderson’s mama is a warm and loving presence who patiently waits for her boy to work through his emotions.
“Well, Everett,” his mama sighs,
“Who do you love?”
And he cries and cries.
This extraordinary book is a powerful tool for anyone to use with a child who’s lost a loved one. So it’s a mystery to me why it’s sitting unloved on the shelf of the historical children’s section of the SFPL. The illustrations are masterful, depicting the emotions of the boy and his mother so accurately that I wanted to reach out and hug them both.
Like the rest of us, Everett Anderson also bargains with death and then becomes depressed when he finds that bargaining doesn’t work, either.
But lest you think the book ends miserably, I’ll leave you with “Acceptance”:
After a little bit of time
We see an image of Everett trudging alone through the snow, then—page turn— an image of mama and Everett, holding a photo of his father:
Everett Anderson says, “I knew
my daddy loved me through and through,
and whatever happens when people die,
love doesn’t stop, and
neither will I.”
Everett Anderson’s Goodbye is still available through Amazon, and presumably can be ordered through your local bookstore. It should not be relegated to the dustbin of history.
Title: Everett Anderson’s Goodbye
Author: Lucille Clifton
Illustrator: Ann Grifalconi
Publisher: Holt (original), now Square Fish
Pub date: 1983 (original), 1988
Ages: K-3, I might even use it as an entry point for talking about death with older children.
36 thoughts on “Everett Anderson – Perfect Picture Book Friday”
The drawings are so moving and powerful too. I hope it gets recategorized in the library so more children can be comforted by it.
Exactly! But I’m not sure how, or if, that ever happens. The drawings are exquisite, aren’t they?
Definitely sounds like a book that deserves better display in a library. There are few books that deal so well with the topic. This one could be a great resource for families experiencing a similarly difficult time. A great resource for those of us in pediatrics, too. Thank you.
Sad to say that these types of books are needed, but very pleased to recommend one that is so beautifully done. Please do use it in your practice!
With the Reading Rainbow imprint on it I imagine it’s received a fair amount of exposure, but it was new to me. Thanks for sharing it.
It probably received quite a bit of exposure when it was first published. But this book is timeless, and I think it needs a little boost to get it back into circulation. Thanks for stopping by!
Beautiful and heart wrenching illustrations Jilanne
The illustrations provide so much depth. Yes, loss is heart wrenching, isn’t it? Especially when someone so young has to figure out how to deal with the loss of a parent.
Indeed. It’s hard enough when the parent has reached the end of their allotted years and the ‘child’ facing the loss is an adult, but for a child, unbearable
What a beautiful book on grief. I love the poetic style and the deeply moving illustrations. I am always on the outlook for good grief books to recommend. Strange where you found the book in the library. Thank you so much for sharing it as a picture book.
Thank you for taking a look!
I hope you can convince the librarians how time.y this book is. Many thanks.
Yes, I’m trying to do my part to give it some 21st century legs!
Lovely illustrations, but as you say, sad that such books are needed. But needed they are.
I had never seen Ann Grifalconi’s work before. So now I’m looking for more…Such expressiveness. Just perfect.
Timeless and beautiful – yes!
Thanks for stopping by, Cathy!
She has tackled a tough subject deftly indeed. Thank you for sharing this.
I’ll have to see if I can find any of her books in our local library.
And Thanks for the link to the Brown Bookshelf. I was just talking with a friend about good sources for more ethnically diverse kid’s books. What a great resource and one I will share. I will definitely be doing some more delving into that site–the “What color is my world” book by Kareem looks really cool.
Yes, it’s a great resource! So many books to discover. I’d highly recommend buying Brown Girl Dreaming for your daughter. You should read it first, though, while Miss M gets a little more age. It is such an achingly beautiful book!
Yes–I will check it out. And the Magpie is kind of like 9 going on forty, so you never know….
Add a tag to your post…helping children deal with death and death and dying. It will at least give it a wider audience. Also writing a review on Good Reads and Amazon brings the ratings up so it gets promoted more. And it can be added to any other outlet you can think of. 🙂
Good suggestions! Will do!
This sounds like a powerful book, and one that just might help some kids get out of a black hole.
Yes, I hope this book finds its way to those who need it. Thanks for stopping by!
This looks like a great book on this topic. I shared this link with a friend, who is writing about difficult topics. I hope I can find this one too.
I hope your library has it! Thanks for sharing this with others. I’d love to see this book out and about! Cheers!
WOW! What a powerful book! The illustrations look like they could just tell the story alone.
It’s interesting that you should say that, Erik. The saying goes something like “the illustrations should be 50% of a picture book.” I’d say that the text and illustrations do their part to bring their 50% of life to this story. Thanks for stopping by!
Oh my…this sounds wonderful. I think it covers a very difficult topic in what seems, from your review, a delicate way.
Yes, it is beautifully and artfully done. And I’m doing my best to give this book a second life. Thanks for stopping by!
Wow. This book blows me away. Beautiful!
Yay! Another fan!
It looks like a powerful book, those illustrations…
Tis true, that’s the magic of picture books. The text provides the hints and the illustrations knock the reader for a loop.
Books like this always choke me up. The artwork is beautiful.
I can’t tell you how alone it makes me feel to look at the illustration of the little boy trudging through the snow, his scarf flying behind him in the wind. The illustrator masterfully created the sense of loss.