Friday, November 09, 2018
First sentence: Fern loved Nanna. She loved her butterfly cakes, her mantelpiece mice, and her cat, Snowball. Most of all, she loved her smile. But recently, Nanna had stopped baking cakes, the mice were dusty, and Snowball was more like a ball of fuzz. Worst of all, Nanna hardly ever smiled.
Premise/plot: In Corrine Averiss' Joy, Fern, our lovable narrator, goes on a mission--a mission to CATCH or capture joy. She wants to give this captured-joy to her grandmother--her Nanna. Will her hunt for joy succeed? Perhaps. Fern finds herself surrounded by whooshes of joy all over the place. But how do you capture a feeling? How can you give it away?
My thoughts: I really loved this one the first time I read it. I love it when picture books focus on the oh-so-special relationship between child and grandparent--in this case a girl and her grandmother. I loved, loved, loved seeing Nanna's huge SMILE when she was talking to her granddaughter. "You bring me all the joy in the world just by being you." It's SUPER-SUPER sweet.
I didn't love it quite so much the second time I read it. I don't suspect--I know--that I am now overthinking things. Is Fern genuinely worried about Nanna's mental and emotional health? Is Fern being empathetic and compassionate or selfish? Does Fern just want her fun playmate back? Does she just miss the butterfly cakes? Why are the butterfly cakes mentioned first in the things she loves about her grandmother? Doesn't she realize that there will be a time when her Nanna no longer is able to bake cakes?! Doesn't she realize that she's blessed just to have her Nanna around? The cakes are ultimately meaningless. It's Nanna that matters. Not what Nanna can do for her. She probably doesn't. Fern is in a happy little innocent bubble. She's taking everything for granted. And perhaps that is the way it should be.
But what really bothered me the second time around were the illustrations. Nanna is in a wheel chair. Fern is pushing her chair through the park. The last spread shows Nanna and Fern relaxing on a blanket at the park. Surrounded by multiple cakes. No chair in sight. How did Nanna get down on the ground? How will she get back up again? Getting grandparents back up off the floor--even if they've never spent time in a wheel chair--usually isn't easy. I got down here but how am I going to get back up again. This conversation happens. It's real. So I'm worried even if Fern isn't.
Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10
© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews