________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 4 . . . .October 14, 2005

cover

Toby's Very Important Question. (First Novels, 51).

Jean Lemieux. Translated by Sarah Cummins. Illustrated by Sophie Casson.
Halifax, NS: Formac, 2004.
61 pp., pbk. & cl., $5.95 (pbk.) $14.95 (cl.).
ISBN 0-88780-636-8 (pbk.), ISBN 0-88780-637-6 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Death-Juvenile fiction.
Life-Juvenile fiction.
Aunts-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Lisa O'Hara.

**** /4

   

 

In Toby's Very Important Question, Jean Lemieux tells the story of eight-year old Toby and what he learns when sorrow comes to his house. After his aunt is killed in a car accident on Christmas night, Toby finds himself experiencing new emotions and asking questions that nobody seems to be able to answer.

"Why did Aunt Franny have to die?"

"It was an accident. You know, Toby, life hangs by just a slender thread."

"Why do sad things happen, like accidents and leukemia? IT'S NOT FAIR!"

Mom smiled.

"These things are part of life. We have to accept them."

We have to accept them... Well, I, Toby Omeranovic, refused to accept that my-Aunt-Franny-who-used-to-sneak-me-chocolates was dead.

     The family travels to Toby's grandparents's home along with other family members, including Toby's cousin Eloise and his aunt Melanie who plays the cello. They attend a viewing of his aunt's body, and Toby continues to struggle with his emotions, which he says begin to feel like a planet in his stomach. Through conversations with his relatives, Toby begins to understand that there are no answers to some of the questions he is asking, and he begins to accept his aunt's death.

     Jean Lemieux tells Toby's story with great sensitivity and care. He leads children through the emotions Toby experiences in this situation from fear, anger, and helplessness through to acceptance. Sophie Casson's black and white drawings illustrate the emotions Toby experiences and the comfort he takes in his family. Toby's Very Important Question is an excellent book to introduce children to the emotions they might experience and the questions that they might ask in the face of the death of a loved one.

Highly Recommended.

Lisa O'Hara is a mother of three and a librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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