________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 29. . . .March 29, 2013


Blowing Bubbles.

Kathleen Cherry. Illustrated by Jill Quinn Babcock.
Mississauga, ON: Aspirations Publishing, 2012.
32 pp., pbk., $15.00.
ISBN 978-0-9879947-0-7.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7.

Review by Linda Ludke.

*** /4



On Wednesday, Josh thought about go-karts and decided to call Grandpa as soon as he got home from school. Maybe they could go on Friday. Saturday seemed too far away.

But when he got home, he knew something was wrong.

Usually Mom was bustling, cooking, and fussing. But today she was sitting- really still.

“It’s your Grandpa George,” she said. “Josh, sweetie, he’s sick.”

“You mean, he has a cold or the flu?”

“No,” Mom said softly. “He’s had what’s called a stroke. His body’s not working right. He’s in the hospital and the doctors are helping him.”

internal artJosh and his Grandpa George have a close relationship and enjoy many adventurous excursions together, including thrilling roller coaster rides and fast go-kart races. Grandpa George has a “go-get-'em” attitude (“I don’t want to look at the sea- I want to feel it”) and a talent for blowing great big bubblegum bubbles. When George suffers a sudden stroke, Josh struggles to understand the changes in his beloved grandfather.

     The bibliotherapeutic text does a very good job of conveying the child’s emotional point of view. Josh is surprised to see his grandpa lying in a hospital bed (“Grandpa doesn’t like to rest”) and kicks the foot of the bed. Josh’s concerns are misconstrued: “But, when will we race go-karts?” Josh asked. “That’s not important now,” Mom said. But it was important. It was important to Grandpa George.” Josh feels conflicted (“He didn’t like visiting the hospital … He’s not the same”), and the adults in the story also struggle to deal with the difficult situation (“Mom spoke in an extra loud voice, as if Grandpa’s hearing had gone away with his words”).

     When Josh spends some time alone with “this new Grandpa George”, he realizes that, although the means of communication may be different, their loving relationship hasn’t changed. Through a crinkle of “his race car-blue eyes”, a smile and a wave, Josh understands his grandpa would like a really fast wheelchair ride down the hospital corridor. In appreciation, Grandpa George blows a huge bubblegum bubble, and Josh confirms “And he blew it just right.”

      Jill Quinn Babcock’s watercolour illustrations realistically capture the concerns of the family. Josh’s body language runs the gamut from expressions of worry and fear and trepidation to a joyful reunion.


Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.

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

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