cover image A Glass

A Glass

Etienne Delessert. Creative Editions, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-56846-257-8

Anyone familiar with Delessert's dark fantasies will be surprised and touched by this memoir of his stepmother, Eglantine Besson, which will be perhaps best appreciated by adult readers. Left motherless after his birth, Delessert found the woman his father hired to care for him to be an imaginative and patient companion: "We took snails for rides around the garden in my wooden carriage." Eventually, Besson and his father married. The title and cover image, a European-style drinking glass, refer to an object that went flying during one of only two arguments son and stepmother ever had: "I can't even remember the reason for her anger.... It did not break. We laughed, hugged... for the rest of her long life." Affectionate drawings of other small objects%E2%80%94a pin in the shape of a duck, a pile of books on a chair%E2%80%94are the repositories of Delessert's memories. A striking portrait shows Besson in old age, her silver hair gathered elegantly on her head, smoking one of her cherished miniature cigars. The ringing final sentence states what the rest of the book has made plain: "She was my real mom." Ages 7%E2%80%93up. (Oct.)