Dear Mr. G.
Christine Evans, illus. by Gracey Zhang. Union Square Kids, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4549-4417-1
Expressive, assured ink and wash artwork by Zhang (Nigel and the Moon) creates a sense of close community in this story told in correspondence between a child and an older neighbor. Each letter appears adjacent to a backdrop of the events it describes, starting with an apology that arrives with a plate of scones. Jackson, a child who cues as East Asian, has kicked a soccer ball into the yard of Mr. Graham, who reads as Black. “I was trying to score my tenth goal of the day,” Jackson’s note explains; “I hope your roses are okay.” Mr. Graham sends a response inviting Jackson over for a rose-pruning tutorial, and the two, plus Jackson’s mother, are shown conferring over pruning shears. Next, Jackson sends a birthday card; Mr. G. responds with his own birthday wishes, plus memories from when he was Jackson’s age. Letters help the now-close duo keep in touch when the older man moves to a care facility and Jackson takes charge of the roses, even as the blooms’ annual wintering portends a bigger change in both their lives. Evans (Emily’s Idea) shows how written words can help grow friendship in a story that underscores an intergenerational bond’s many gifts. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Elizabeth Bennett, Transatlantic Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Hannah Mann, Writers House. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/16/2023