Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories, by Audrey Penn (illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson)

Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories
Author: Audrey Penn
Illustrator: Barbara L. Gibson
Publisher: Tanglewood
Publication Date: August 15, 2009
I know that Audrey Penn's Chester the Raccoon series is best known for its gentle messages about helping children deal with life's big changes (going to school, moving, having a new sibling) and The Kissing Hand is one of my favourite books for children ever. So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that this book was another "dealing with big changes" book. I just wasn't expecting it to be so sad (SO sad!). In Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories, Chester must deal with the death of a loved one. I realize this is something every child has to deal with at some point, whether it's the death of a grandparent or a family pet or some one else close to them. It's a sad, confusing time and it's good to have books available to help comfort children through this difficult time. But, having said that...

The death Chester must deal with in this book is the death of a classmate, which is WAY sadder than I expected from a children's book. He comes home and explains that the teacher said Skiddel Squirrel had "an accident" and wouldn't be coming back to school. I know it's a squirrel and not a person, but within the logic of the book it would be the equivalent of a child dying. I admit, I was quite traumatized. 

There's no denying Audrey Penn's skill as a storyteller (nor illustrator Barbara L. Gibson's skill as an artist). Just be warned--it's a very sad take on the "helping children deal with death" theme. Well, I say that, but it's only half true. The premise is extremely depressing but the way Chester and his mom deal with it is very sweet. They make memories of Chester's friend so they will be able to think of him always, including finding a spot where he buried acorns that have now sprouted into little trees.

It's also a fair bit wordier than most of Penn's other books. (I don't mean that as a criticism, I simply mean that it has a lot more words per page than the other Chester the Raccoon books) So it's probably best for slightly older children instead of preschoolers or toddlers.

You May Also Like:
The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn (illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak)

Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book free from the publisher from NetGalley. I was not obliged to write a favourable review, or even any review at all. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.

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