With her signature spare precision, MacLachlan (Word After Word After Word) crafts a standout portrait of a child-grandparent relationship, set on a family farm. “Billy is eighty-eight years old, and I don’t worry about him dying,” says 10-year-old narrator Jake. “He will live forever. I know that.” When irrepressible Billy nostalgically longs for a sod house, like the one he lived in as a child, MacLachlan skillfully stages Jake and the family’s reaction to this wish. Jake initially balks, then researches how to create a sod house, enlisting the entire family for help after Billy falls ill. The narrative offers a strong sense of place and family, with touches of the miraculous, such as “angel dog” Lucy, who arrives unexpectedly, bonding with Billy, and cheering him. The cycles of birth and death persist on the farm and gently foreshadow the inevitable mortality of its patriarch. MacLachlan handles a familiar theme with grace, providing a lens into an uncanny intergenerational bond, as well as the kindness and generosity of love. Ages 7–10. Agent: East West Literary Agency. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/12/2011 Release date: 02/01/2012 Genre: Children's
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