Zayde Comes to Live

Peachtree Publishers   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.

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