The most needed conversations are, by their nature, the most difficult to initiate with children. Londner’s new book, Stones for Grandpa, helps us open a conversation on death, even with a young child, by focusing on the joy and importance of remembering that person. The author reminds us that our memories can never be lost and the power to carry the person within us is ever present. The Jewish tradition of laying stones at the grave is a way to focus our memories on that person.
The text is well balanced, focusing on the joyful memories that document the passage of time and on the Unveiling and the process of laying stones. Her focus on creating solid descriptions of the grandpa’s attributes helps to establish and lock-in the importance of the memories for the young boy.
Avilés’s illustrations flow across the pages and are warm, inviting, and contemplative, bringing the words to life though the caress of a mother, the grandpa’s hat on an empty chair, and a handkerchief wiping a tear. Her sensitivity to the text is reflected throughout the illustrations. The book is highly recommended for ages 5 – 9 and would also be of great use to schools, religious schools, and bereavement groups of all ages as a means to explain and support Judaic principles and traditions.