Review Blog

May 16 2013

Gracie and Josh by Susanne Gervay

cover image

Ill. by Serena Geddes. Ford Street Publishing, 2013. Hbk, 32 pp RRP $A26.95. ISBN 9781921665844. Pbk. RRP $A16.95. ISBN 9781921665851.
Josh is making a movie, the first on his journey to being a famous movie director. His sister, Gracie, is the star - dressed up as a spider with lovely black squishy sausage legs and singing Incy Wincy Spider with gusto and love, especially love. This is a good week for Josh and it's celebrated with things like going to school... because that is a celebration for Josh. The following week he's on the downhill slide to his next bout of chemotherapy. That striped beanie is not just an artistic affectation. Gracie urges him to be resilient, 'Look, Josh, the spider fell down six times. But the spider didn't give up. You just have to try, try and try again.' The story follows Josh to hospital and the events there are touched with such a gentle brush that it uplifts the spirit. It is a story which shows both the joys of being a kid as well as their vulnerability and confusion when confronted with tough stuff, and how the special relationship between siblings is so critical. As much as Gracie is there for Josh, he is there for Gracie.
Full disclosure - I have to be one of Susanne Gervay's greatest fans, but I'm not going to recuse myself from reviewing her books. I love the way she tackles topics that are not the mainstream for children's literature, but ARE mainstream in the lives of many children. I am blessed - so far none of the precious little people in my life have been touched by serious illness or injury, but so many families have and so many of the children in our care would relate so well to Gracie. To go to the bookshop or the school library and find a book that deals so beautifully and sensitively with what is your everyday life has to bring some comfort. 'Wow, someone sees the way my family is as normal and important enough to write a book for me... maybe I'm not so alone after all. Maybe now my friends will understand.' There needs to be no other justification for having this book in your collection than that, and the fact that it is perfectly pitched, masterfully written and delicately illustrated in the softest lines and colours just adds to its beauty. The partnership between Susanne and Serena is inspired.
This story has been endorsed by Variety, an organisation dedicated to making the lives of sick children better - no doubt many of us have reason to be grateful for their work. Make sure this book is part of your collection. Teaching notes are available from Ford St - and they are great conversation starters for the classmates of a student like Josh, or even for a parent needing guidance in talking to their healthy children. Correlating them to the ANC is a bonus.
Barbara Braxton

Archived Blog Entries