cover image ANNA'S CORN


Barbara Santucci, , illus. by Lloyd Bloom. . Eerdmans, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8028-5119-2

Delicately overlapping themes about the cycles of life, Santucci (Loon Lake) crafts a memorable, touching story about the death of a girl's much-loved grandfather. Grandpa teaches Anna that the corn in his fields makes "its own kind of music" and he shows her how to hear it, too: "A sudden gust of wind breathed through the dried corn stalks… until a song formed. A raspy song, like Grandpa's voice." Grandpa gives Anna some kernels, and that winter, as he lays ill, he makes her promise to plant them. Shortly afterward he dies, and Anna wrestles with her promise. "If I bury them, they'll be gone forever," she tells her mother. Bloom (A Man Named Thoreau) contributes some of his most affecting work yet, rendering his soulful, folksy compositions in a restrained blend of graphite, watercolor pencils and pastels. His nuanced use of color subtly draws readers' attention to changes in the seasons that correspond to the changes in Anna's feelings. For example, when Anna finally resolves to plant the corn, Bloom shows her smiling in the field; light browns and grays (used for the soil, Anna's clothing, parts of the sky, etc.) dominate the illustration, while a patch of green in the distance reinforces the springtime setting, with its promise of renewal, as well as the rebirth of Anna's hopes. Not only useful for readers coping with bereavement, this work is resonant in its own right as a celebration of continuity, in nature and in the heart. Ages 6-up. (Sept.)