Zayde Comes to Live

Sheri Sinykin; Kristi­na Swamer, illus.
  • Review
By – April 30, 2012

This beau­ti­ful­ly writ­ten book and Kristi­na Swarner’s accom­pa­ny­ing lumi­nous illus­tra­tions explore the con­cept of death through the eyes of Zayde’s grand­daugh­ter, Rachel. Zayde has come to live with her fam­i­ly and she knows that he is dying, although no one has told her this. He is shown wear­ing oxy­gen and she sees that he can do few­er and few­er things with her. She ques­tions her Chris­t­ian and Mus­lim friends about death but explains that her fam­i­ly does not believe in Jesus or Allah because they are Jew­ish. The author presents the views of these reli­gions on where peo­ple go when they die in an infor­ma­tive, gen­tle and respect­ful way. 

Rab­bi Lev com­forts her by say­ing that Zayde is liv­ing until the moment he dies” and that he’ll take one last breath, then his ener­gy will live on with your ances­tors in the World to Come — what we call Olam Ha-Ba.” 

Zayde tells her that his body is get­ting tired and soon the out­side part of him will return to the earth. But the inside part of him, his spir­it, will live on because his love will stay with her always and so will her memories. 

Sheri Sinykin has han­dled the sub­ject of death with sen­si­tiv­i­ty and grace. Kristi­na Swarner’s use of linoleum prints with water­col­or and col­ored pen­cil for her love­ly illus­tra­tions evokes a light-filled and com­fort­ing mood. 

Very high­ly rec­om­mend­ed for ages 6 – 10 and excel­lent for use with chil­dren fac­ing the death or after the death of a loved one.

Andrea David­son is the librar­i­an of The Tem­ple-Tifer­eth Israel in Beach­wood, Ohio. She holds an M.L.S. from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan and is a for­mer mem­ber of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Awards Com­mit­tee. She enjoys try­ing out the books she reviews on the kids at the Tem­ple and on her grandchildren.

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