Award Winning Book Challenge 2013
ZAYDE COMES TO LIVE by Sheri Sinykin
Illustrated by Kristina Swarner
Peachtree Publishers, 2012
Zayde comes to live with Rachel and her family because he’s dying. No one tells this to Rachel, but with that uncanny ability children have to sense changes, she knows. Rachel’s Christian and Muslim friends have different beliefs about what happens after death. She listens but wonders where her ill grandfather will go, if not to Heaven or Paradise. When she asks Rabbi Lev, he is honest about the physical change that will happen. And he tells her about Olam Ha-Ba, the Jewish spiritual afterlife.
Even Zayde helps Rachel accept the inevitable. But he tells her the most important part, that his love will stay. Zayde Comes to Live is a sweet and important book about grief and loss, love and memories. Sinykin’s poetic language emphasizes the rhythm of breathing and the circle of life.
Illustrator Kristina Swarner’s soft linoleum prints complement the subject, giving the whole book a dream-like quality. Subtle symbolism hints of reality, though. Falling leaves are visible through the window, and a red umbrella waits in the stand by the door.
Other picture books address the subject of death, but Zayde Comes To Live offers a richness not often found. This story honors faith traditions and allows room for discussions of others’ beliefs about the afterlife. Sinykin’s book joins other sensitively written books that help youngsters understand death. Parents of young children, libraries and church libraries will want to add this book to the bookshelf.
|Sydney Taylor Honor Book Award for Younger Readers, 2013|
Kristina Swarner's website here .