Always By My Side

Susan Kerner, illus. by Ian P. Benfold Haywood. Star Bright, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59572-336-9
Kerner, in her first children's book, offers a rhyming poem to console children growing up without a father. The verse never delineates a specific explanation for the paternal absence, allowing the book to be used in situations where a father may be absent due to death, divorce, incarceration, or other circumstances. Similarly, Haywood's (Tim and the Iceberg) illustrations showcase an ethnically diverse range of children in urban and rural environments, quietly underlining the idea that there are many children living in single-parent homes. While the message is never anything less than comforting, there are some weaknesses in both text and artwork: Kerner's rhymes can be wobbly in their meter, as well as a tad syrupy ("And when I hear the birds in song,/ or barking dogs at play,/ I know that he is speaking to me/ in a very special way"), and the adults and children that populate Haywood's illustrations look static amid the vibrant and expressive settings he creates for them. Still, families coping with loss should find this a useful tool. 4–8. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 10/14/2013
Release date: 03/01/2013
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 30 pages - 978-1-59572-337-6
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