For 2022, our reading theme is #DecolonizeBookshelves2022. Essentially, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:
Postcolonial literature and/or [pre/post] revolutionary stories
Stories by indigenous / first-nation peoples / people of colour
Narratives of survival and healing, exile and migration, displacement and dispossession
Books written or illustrated by people who have been colonized, oppressed, marginalized
All From A Walnut (Amazon | Book Depository)
Written by Ammi-Joan Paquette Illustrated by Felicita Sala
Published by Harry N. Abrams (2022)
ISBN: 141975002X (ISBN13: 9781419750021) Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.
A young girl named Emilia wakes up one morning with a nut on her nightstand. This, apparently, was a signal for a treasured story from Emilia’s grandfather.
I am a fan of Felicita Sala’s art. The details, for example, as can be seen in the image spread above, are thoughtful and deliberate, with the nut on Emilia’s nightstand clearly belonging to the bowl of walnuts on the dining table where Emilia’s mother and grandfather are having breakfast.
Emilia, then, gets to hear “the best of stories” from her grandfather with the tale of how, as a very young boy, he traveled from Lake Como in Italy to the United States bringing only a small bag and a nut. While this may be perceived as another one of the im/migrant stories that are out there, what stood out for me in this story was the contrast between the tiny walnut planted by grandfather and granddaughter – its gradual growth and blossoming and the grandfather’s evident decline in health.
There is the sense of rootedness and continuity, grief and healing, and amidst it all, life continues on – with a little bit of water and sunlight.
The Treasure Box (Amazon | Book Depository)
Written by Dave Keane Illustrator Rahele Jomepour Bell
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (2022) ISBN: 1984813188 (ISBN13: 9781984813183) Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.
A young girl is excited about the new treasures she discovered: rocks, discarded snakeskin, sticks. She knows that there is one person on earth who would be as equally delighted by this wild collection: her grandfather.
I like seeing how the young girl waits patiently while the grownups talk and talk and talk until the time when she would finally have her grandfather all to herself, and see his “funny faces” while he delicately goes over his granddaughter’s collection. I also love the walks they take together as they collect treasures in Grandpa’s blue hat.
However, it is clear that Grandpa is growing weak each day: first the tubes in his nose while he was at home, then the hospital with the beeping machines, until the day the girl’s parents told her that Grandpa has died.
This was a book that caught me sideways and warmed my jaded reader’s heart. I am grateful that we are now at a stage in children’s book publishing when we respect and acknowledge children’s intelligence and maturity to be able to handle truths about death and dying – in all its permutations and stages. I believe that grief only gets even more overwhelming if it cannot be shared with another; and this book is about the gift of shared grief and the treasures we are able to derive from it.
#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Update: 80/81 out of target 100