cover image Remembering Mrs. Rossi

Remembering Mrs. Rossi

Amy Hest, , illus. by Heather Maione. . Candlewick, $14.99 (143pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2163-6

When eight-year-old Annie's mother, a sixth-grade teacher, contracts pneumonia, "nobody, absolutely nobody" expected her to die. But she does. Hest's (The Purple Coat ) moving novel balances humor with poignant moments, such as Annie's feeling that her mother will be home waiting for her ("She's reading on the couch in her fuzzy blue robe as usual, eating coffee ice cream on the couch as usual"), only to be struck anew with the realization she is gone. The girl shares her regrets, recalling mean things she said to her mother and wishing, as the snow falls, that she could make a snowman with her ("Just one more time"). Her kind father can't completely fill the space; he neglects to remind his daughter to wear warm socks on a cold night and goes to work on her snow day from school instead of playing in the park with her ("He doesn't know the rules"). In one heartrending scene, Annie confides to her father that she fears she forgot to tell her mother she loved her and that she worries, "What if I stop remembering Mommy?" But the compendium of reminiscences (which gives this book its title) put together by Mrs. Rossi's class helps Annie and her father remember (it's reproduced at novel's end). Annie reads the entries over and over, "Page after page, like so many secret little visits with her mother." Readers of this fine novel will find the spirited, resilient Annie another character—just like her mother—well worth remembering. Ages 8-12. (Feb.)