3 out of 4 stars
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Candma Goes to Heaven by Monica Burch is a spiritual children’s book that teaches kids about death and grief. Alex is a young boy who loves his grandmother, who he calls “Candma”. She is sick and gets better a few times, but eventually she becomes very sick and passes away. His parents explain that her spirit has gone to Heaven, and Alex must learn to deal with his grief and remember his grandmother with love.
This book does a wonderful job with making death and grief understandable to a child. The author emphasizes the importance of family members reinforcing that the grandmother loved Alex even after she has passed away. The author also includes pages in which both parents prepare Alex for her death and grieve with him. His parents are open about their emotions and do not try to hide their sadness from their son, encouraging him to be open as well.
I also really loved the illustrations by Emily Zeiroth. They show Alex and his family in both happy and sad moments. I think the detailed facial expressions will help children connect with Alex’s emotions and empathize with him.
Unfortunately, there are a few issues with this book as well. I found multiple grammatical errors which mostly involved missing commas. While these didn’t impede my understanding of the story, it’s important for children’s books to be grammatically correct because children will model the writing they read. I also didn’t like that the pages were either all illustration or all words. Until the very end of the book, there were no pages that incorporated both a picture and narration. Finally, Alex’s little brother, Aiden, is introduced at the very end of the story, but he is never specifically said to be the little brother, and it’s implied he wasn’t alive when the grandmother died even though the boys look close enough in age for this to not be true. This could be confusing for children.
Overall, I would give this book 3 out of 4 stars. It deals with a difficult topic exceptionally well, but it needs some editing to fix the grammatical mistakes and integrate the pictures and words more effectively. I would recommend this book for children ages 4 to 10, although younger children will need an adult to read them the book. It would be especially good for children who have lost family members or are likely to lose loved ones in the near future.
Candma Goes to Heaven
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