One More Day
What would Anna and Joey do with that last day with their beloved grandfather? Joey would have one last contest to see who could make the best Matzah ball sculpture. Anna would play one last game of checkers. Of course, each of these wishes leads to more memories and more wishes. Anna and Joey decide to make a list of everything that they would do with Poppy if they had one more day with him. Anna is big enough to write her wishes down, but Joey has to sketch his.
When Anna and Joey share their wishes with their parents, their mom recognizes their work for what it is--a book. She suggests that this book will be enjoyed by all the friends and family members who will be visiting as they mark the death of Poppy. Mom suggests that Anna and Joseph's list is actually a list of memories of the special things they did with Poppy, but Anna is adamant about calling them wishes. "Wishes feel closer. Memories feel too far away, and I don't want them far away."
Dealing With Grief
When my father passed away, my grandchildren coped with his loss much as Anna and Joseph did in Wishes for One More Day. Through art and writing, they expressed their grief. One granddaughter worked on her memorial book even during the funeral service.
Anna and Joey have no warning of their grandfather's impending death. Their grandfather died suddenly, in his sleep. My father was in hospice for the last few days of his life, so our focus was preparing the family for a death. The same strategies that helped Anna and Joey deal with an unexpected death also helped my family prepare for my father's death. Expressing emotions through art and writing can help grandchildren deal with grief.
The family in the book is Jewish. Besides the reference to Matzah ball soup, there is a reference to the Jewish custom of the memorial candle, and a relative is shown covering a mirror. Jewish grandparents may want to add this book to their collection of books for Jewish families. Children of all faiths, however, will be able to relate to this book and may learn something about dealing with grief. If they also learn something about a religious faith that is different from their own, that's a bonus.
The Bottom Line
Wishes for One More Day is the first picture book for Melanie Joy Pastor, a teacher. Jacqui Grantford, an Australian illustrator who has won numerous awards, brings the story to life with her illustrations, which have a traditional, almost retro feel, reminiscent of the Little Golden Books of my youth. It's a look that is altogether perfect for the subject matter.
For many children, the death of a grandparent is their first taste of death, and that's not a bad thing. It's part of the natural order of things that grandparents should die first. Still, your family's unique characteristics should determine how you use this book. Whether Wishes for One More Day is a part of the regular rotation at your house is up to you. Some grandchildren may be upset unnecessarily by the idea of losing a beloved grandparent. For those grandchildren, it's probably better to save this book until it is needed. No matter how you choose to utilize it, however, Wishes for One More Day is a good book to add to a collection of children's books about grandparents.