Sometimes We Were Brave

Pat Brisson, Author, France Brassard, Illustrator , illus. by France Brassard. Boyds Mills $16.95 (28p) ISBN 978-1-59078-586-7

Jerome's mom is in the Navy. When the ship is in port, she “comes home every night” and family time is normal: “We bake cookies together. We read books. We take our dog, Duffy, for walks.” But when Mom ships out and it's just Jerome and his dad, Jerome gets into fights at school, wets his bed, and can't sleep during a storm (“Is the storm out by Mom's ship, too?”). Brassard's (Lily and the Mixed-Up Letters ) characters sometimes have a glazed look, though her intimate, documentary framings give the vignettes the ring of verisimilitude. The combined effect of the watercolors and Brisson's (I Remember Miss Perry ) bluntly honest prose is powerful: readers of all ages will come away feeling protective of this struggling little boy. Even when subsequent readings raise troubling issues (like Dad's peripheral visual presence, and Jerome's parents' preternatural ability to be consistently firm, patient, and emotionally available), kids in Jerome's situation—and those curious about how it feels to be there—should find this book immensely comforting and reassuring. Ages 5–7. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/21/2009
Release date: 01/01/2010
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