Hello. Fats here.
As I scavenge for more picture books that pertain to our current bimonthly theme on Loss, Heartbreak, and Coming of Age, I’m sharing with you a middle grade fiction book I came across in Goodwill. It was the only copy on display so I’d like to think that I was meant to find it. If you’re looking for books about the death of one parent and/or teacher, then this book is one of them.
Written by: Amy Hest
Illustrated by: Heather Maione
Published by: Scholastic
Own copy of the book.
The leaves in the park were especially gold that fall. Everyone spoke of the leaves. And the skies were especially blue. Everyone spoke of the bright blue skies… and nobody, absolutely nobody, expected Mrs. Rossi to die.
Remembering Mrs. Rossi by Amy Hest is an endearing book about a girl named Annie Rossi who was struggling to move on from her mother’s death. At a tender age of eight, little Annie lost her mommy to pneumonia. She was left in the care of her father who was a professor at Columbia University.
The sixth-grade students of Mrs. Rossi wrote a collection of stories about their teacher using the same title as this book. One of the things I like about Remembering Mrs. Rossi is how it focuses on father-daughter relationship, and how the loss of a mother changes almost everything in the household.
Annie doesn’t want his explanations. No sir, she wants to wave her arms in the air, this way and that, and tell her father all the hundreds of things he does wrong every day—all the millions of things he simply doesn’t know! “We’re supposed to be the first ones making tracks in the park… and then we come home and make cookies… and eat them hot… and that’s what you do in a snowstorm. Mommy knows!” Annie blinks with surprise at her very own rush of words. Mommy knows… Mommy knows…
Single parenting is not an easy job, but Annie knows none of that. All she cared about was getting stuff done the right way, and the right way translates into “Mommy way.” It’s always interesting to see the dynamics between a single parent and a child of the opposite gender. A big part of Amy Hest’s book is a portrayal of this kind of relationship. While I felt awfully sorry for Professor Rossi, I could not blame Annie for her feelings. The death of her mother was a sudden break from her routine, and children her age take more time to adjust to life changes.
Annie doesn’t realize that the things she gets mad at her dad for are the very same things that make her remember her mom. With the help of Professor Rossi’s understanding and kind nature, as well as the book written by Mrs. Rossi’s sixth-grade class, Annie learns to keep her Mommy close, and let her go, and keep her close again.
Here is an adorable sample from the book, Remembering Mrs. Rossi, that her sixth-grade class wrote for her. Parents and teachers can also use this in helping young children deal with grief and come to terms with death and loss of a loved one.
A Scientific Experiment
by that great scientific genius,
What You Need: 1 picture of Matthew; 1 envelope; 1 balloon on a string; strong tape; a lot of stamps
- Put picture of Matthew in envelope.
- Print on envelope
TO: MRS. ROSSI
- Put a lot of stamps on envelope.
- Blow up balloon.
- Go to Central Park. (Go ONLY on a windy day—**important**.)
- Attach envelope to balloon with tape.
- Count to 3. (Count SLOWLY, eyes CLOSED—**important**.)
- Let go of balloon. Open eyes, watch balloon.
- Keep watching balloon for a long time.
Did the balloon get all the way to Heaven?
Did Mrs. Rossi smile when she saw the picture of Matthew?
What We Learned from Science Experiment:
You can’t see the balloon anymore and you can’t see Mrs. Rossi, but you can remember them.