cover image Pearl's Marigolds for Grandpa

Pearl's Marigolds for Grandpa

Jane Breskin Zalben. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80448-9

That irrepressible lamb Pearl is back, though her spirit is understandably dampened, in Zalben's (Pearl Plants a Tree) thoughtful exploration of death and the grieving process. After her grandfather's passing, Pearl is downcast (""Who will read me stories for as long as I want? Who will send me marigold seeds this spring?""), but the tenderness of family and friends carries her through her sadness. And, in an uplifting ending that reinforces the continuity of life, Pearl plants marigolds just as she did with her grandfather and resolves to carry on his traditions with her own grandchildren (""I'll let them pick the red checkers, and win, and read stories way past their bedtimes. Just like Grandpa""). Zalben's compassionate tale never becomes saccharine, and her delicate, detailed watercolors (e.g., Pearl being comforted on her mother's lap, Pearl sitting wistfully in her Grandpa's favorite chair) unfold like a series of snapshots, creating a cozy counterpoint to the somber theme. Concluding with a brief explanation of burial and mourning customs of different faiths, the broader context makes this book a particularly welcome addition on the subject. Ages 3-8. (Sept.)