The Funeral

Matt James. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $18.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-55498-908-9
In his first outing as author, Canadian artist James (When the Moon Comes) examines the way the funeral of a distant relative feels to a child. Great-uncle Frank was old when he died, and Norma’s mother is sad (she “put a million kleenexes in her purse and checked her makeup”). Norma isn’t sad, however: she’ll get a day off from school and she’ll see her cousin Ray. Yet she understands that the occasion is somber, and she sits through the long church service patiently. James’s mixed-media spreads make the gravity of the occasion a backdrop for Norma’s liveliness. He paints her with her head deep inside her mother’s purse, breathing in “a mix of toothpaste and makeup and sweet warm leather.” After the service, Norma and Ray turn cartwheels; back inside, Norma sees a photo of Uncle Frank that “smiles right at her.” James’s creation isn’t designed to start a discussion about death. It’s more a story about Norma that happens to involve a funeral, and it traces with a big heart the way she makes sense of this puzzling event. Ages 4–7. Agent: Jackie Kaiser, Westwood Creative Artists. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/12/2018
Release date: 04/03/2018
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