Original date reviewed: 2/18/03
Summary: Emily’s mom is diagnosed with cancer. The book follows their last year together and the positive way they try to make each moment precious through shared memories of different sky scenes. Emily’s aunt moves in to care for both of them and then takes over as Emily’s guardian after her mom dies.
Personal Reaction: I cried!! I don’t even know anyone with cancer, but I gave it to my media clerk whose mother died two years ago and she sobbed! It is a poignant and touching look at how the characters shared their dwindling time together. UPDATE TO THIS REVIEW: My husband was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma in 2010 and is a survivor, my friend’s mother has survived breast cancer. Things changed since 2003, didn’t they?
Any Cautions: You’ll have to be aware of whether your students have/had a family member with cancer or other terminal illness. This will affect them deeply.
Points for discussion with children: terminal illness, cancer, valuing family and time spent together
Possible classroom uses: This might be a good item to select whenever a school “Pasta for Pennies” (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) or “Relay for Life” (American Cancer Society) event is occurring. It’s short and won’t take more than a day or two to cover. It can remind everyone how precious life is.
Connections to other books: Any cancer or terminal illness related book should be made available for those who need to bond with “others out there” who have had this experience. Nonfiction: Have pamphlets/information available on support groups and online resources for cancer support groups. Coping When Someone in Your Family Has Cancer by Rocha. The Power of a Wish by Spizman about the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Fiction: Lurlene McDaniel has a series that deals with teens’ terminal illnesses. Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer is excellent; A Walk to Remember by Sparks, Kira-Kira by Kadohata, and Drums, Girls, And Dangerous Pie by Sonnenblick (this one made me laugh). YA/Adult – Before I Die by Downham (explicit).
Realia: watercolor paintings or other depictions of sky scenes, purple sequined baseball cap, forsythia flowers
Food items connected to story: None