Grandma’s Gloves

Cecil Castellucci, Author, Julia Denos, Illustrator
Cecil Castellucci, illus. by Julia Denos, Candlewick, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-3168-0
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The narrator’s beloved grandmother is a gardener extraordinaire, a woman who is always “on her knees in the dirt, with her gloves on, talking to her roses, scolding the succulents, and laughing with the birds-of-paradise.” When Grandma falls ill and dies suddenly, the girl is bereft—until she realizes that she can carry on Grandma’s legacy by growing a garden of her own. Castellucci’s evocative, love-infused prose (“I run to her, and she folds me in her fleshy arms for a big kiss. She smells like earth and coffee and hair spray and perfume”) turns heartbreaking in Grandma’s absence (“Everyone dies one day. I know that. The old tree down in the park died.... And now Grandma’s died”), but novelist Castellucci (The Queen of Cool), in her picture book debut, also makes it clear that the narrator finds strength and consolation in her memories. Denos’s (My Little Girl) lush watercolors are a natural for the garden setting, but she also shows a real gift for portraying both characters and a setting marked by loss. Ages 5–8. (Aug.)
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