Monday, October 08, 2012
Guest Review: The Scar by Charlotte Moundlic (Author), Olivier Tallec (Illustrator)
When the boy in this story wakes to find that his mother has died, he is overwhelmed with sadness, anger, and fear that he will forget her. He shuts all the windows to keep in his mother’s familiar smell and scratches open the cut on his knee to remember her comforting voice. He doesn’t know how to speak to his dad anymore, and when Grandma visits and throws open the windows, it’s more than the boy can take—until his grandmother shows him another way to feel that his mom’s love is near. With tenderness, touches of humor, and unflinching emotional truth, Charlotte Moundlic captures the loneliness of grief through the eyes of a child, rendered with sympathy and charm in Olivier Tallec’s expressive illustrations.
I first heard of this book when I was reading about picture books for older children. It sounded quite interesting but I didn’t think any more of it until I was exploring the children’s library in a newly opened library and found the book hidden in one of the many cubby holes waiting to be found. I opened it to read the first couple of pages and that was enough for me to bring it home for a proper read. It is a beautiful book that packs a very real emotional punch.
The book is narrated by a little boy whose mother has just died, he tells the story from waking up to find that she has succumbed to the illness that she has been suffering from for some time. He talks about how he feels straight away and about how he feels and what he does in the weeks to come. Told by him the story feels genuine and honest, and unfiltered in that way young children have, Tallec captures his voice very well. The book is an emotional and sometimes difficult read, I’m sure most readers will be able to identify to some extent with how he feels and acts.
The illustrations in the book are beautiful and simple, the use of a restricted range of colours works really well - it feels like the yellows add warmth and the strong reliance on red adds to the emotional punch of the book. I loved the little details included in the drawings, little birds and toys appear on many of the pages.
I think this book would be a really useful addition to most libraries, it could be used both with children who have experienced the death of a loved one themselves and with other children e.g. in the class of a bereaved child to help them to understand how their classmate might be feeling. I would recommend that any adult planning on reading it with a child reads it first themselves to judge whether it is appropriate for the individual child.
This guest review is from our friend Jenni Nock, who can be found on Twitter as @juniperjungle. Find out about Jenni here! A few more reviews will be coming from Jenni in the next few weeks and they will be, like our usual reads, quite random choices.