for The Boy and the Gorilla
by Jackie Azúa Kramer
and Cindy Derby
When a young white boy is grieving over his mother's death, a gorilla appears to act as a comforting presence and to answer the boy's questions. "How do you know when someone dies? A person's body stops working. Like their heartbeat? Yes." All the while, the boy's father is in the scene, also obviously grieving quietly on his own. Eventually, he replaces the gorilla as the comforting presence who can answer his son's questions. The gorilla is not anthropomorphized and he's huge, like grief itself, in this lovely, tender story reminiscent of Charlotte Zolotow's Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present in the presence of a wise but easy-going animal companion who answers a child's innocent but difficult questions. The soft-edged illustrations perfectly complement the gentle, restrained tone of the narrative. (Ages 4-8)
CCBC Choices 2021. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2021. Used with permission.
This profoundly moving tale about a grieving boy and an imaginary gorilla makes real the power of talking about loss.
On the day of his mother's funeral, a young boy conjures the very visitor he needs to see: a gorilla. Wise and gentle, the gorilla stays on to answer the heart-heavy questions the boy hesitates to ask his father: Where did his mother go? Will she come back home? Will we all die? Yet with the gorilla's friendship, the boy slowly begins to discover moments of comfort in tending flowers, playing catch, and climbing trees. Most of all, the gorilla knows that it helps to simply talk about the loss--especially with those who share your grief and who may feel alone, too. Author Jackie Azúa Kramer's quietly thoughtful text and illustrator Cindy Derby's beautiful impressionistic artwork depict how this tender relationship leads the boy to open up to his father and find a path forward. Told entirely in dialogue, this direct and deeply affecting picture book will inspire conversations about grief, empathy, and healing beyond the final hope-filled scene.
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.