The Boy and the Gorilla
The Boy and the Gorilla

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Annotation: On the day of his mother's funeral, a young boy conjures the very visitor he needs to see: a gorilla. Wise and gentle, the gorilla stays on to answer the heart-heavy questions the boy hesitates to ask his father: Where did his mother go? Will she come back home? Will we all die? Yet with the gorilla's friendship,the boy slowly begins to discover moments of comfort in tending flowers, playing catch, and climbing trees. Most of all, the gorilla knows that it helps to simply talk about the loss especially with those who share your grief and who may feel alone too.
Catalog Number: #256062
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 48
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: Publisher: 0-7636-9832-6 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-9086-X
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-7636-9832-4 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-9086-4
Dewey: E
Language: English
Reviews:
Kirkus Reviews
In the wake of Mom’s death, a gorilla helps a child process grief and open up to Dad so they may heal and find hope again together.As shadows grow long at the funeral and attendees cross a gray-green field, a gorilla looks on. During the reception, the ape’s heavy mass quietly fills the living room where the child sits. But once outside, in Mom’s garden, the child talks with the gorilla. The unnamed child asks about death and dying, and where Mom went, and if she’ll ever come back. The gorilla’s honest yet reassuring responses offer the child relief in the quest to understand. Feelings of hurt, confusion, isolation, and even resentment are acknowledged, but the gorilla’s gentle presence and wise responses help to recenter the soul. Through dialogue, the child begins to understand how Mom’s love continues to live on. When the child bravely reaches out to Dad, the two begin to find comfort and solace in their love for Mom and each other. The artwork, full of expressive brush strokes and washes of color, offers a poeticism that perfectly matches the text. The gorilla’s large purple shape serves as a visual metaphor for the emotional weight of the child’s sadness. Derby’s flowing application of paint conjures a sea of emotions, and the paintings appear as if viewed through a wall of tears. Well-placed pops of bright color are both striking and uplifting. As father and child (both present White) hug, talk, and walk hand in hand under a sweeping sky, the gorilla fades into the distance.Luminous. (Picture book. 4-8)
Publishers Weekly
Following a mother-s death, a gorilla lumbers slowly into the family-s house, then the garden, as grown-ups wearing somber colors disperse. -Your mother-s garden is beautiful,- the gorilla says to her young son, who is working there. -May I help?- The gorilla stays close, answering questions and shoring up the mourning child emotionally. -I wish Mom was here to read to me,- the boy says. The gorilla hunches over a book: -It-s a good story. Your father might like this book, too.- As the boy climbs a tree, hoping his mother will be at the top, the gorilla murmurs, -I-m right behind you.- Derby (Outside In) paints loose washes of quiet colors, with the gorilla-s solemn features and commanding presence drawing attention throughout. Kramer (The Green Umbrella) successfully walks a delicate line between foregrounding the boy-s sadness (-When will I feel better?-) and the gorilla-s miraculous presence. Somehow, the gorilla-s words sound less treacly than a human grown-up-s might (-Each bite is like a memory,- the gorilla says when the boy makes his mother-s favorite cookies), and they offer meaningful support and comfort to the boy until he-s ready to reach out elsewhere. Ages 4-8. Author-s agent: Stephen Fraser, Jennifer De Chiara Literary. Illustrator-s agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. (Oct.)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
In the wake of Mom’s death, a gorilla helps a child process grief and open up to Dad so they may heal and find hope again together.As shadows grow long at the funeral and attendees cross a gray-green field, a gorilla looks on. During the reception, the ape’s heavy mass quietly fills the living room where the child sits. But once outside, in Mom’s garden, the child talks with the gorilla. The unnamed child asks about death and dying, and where Mom went, and if she’ll ever come back. The gorilla’s honest yet reassuring responses offer the child relief in the quest to understand. Feelings of hurt, confusion, isolation, and even resentment are acknowledged, but the gorilla’s gentle presence and wise responses help to recenter the soul. Through dialogue, the child begins to understand how Mom’s love continues to live on. When the child bravely reaches out to Dad, the two begin to find comfort and solace in their love for Mom and each other. The artwork, full of expressive brush strokes and washes of color, offers a poeticism that perfectly matches the text. The gorilla’s large purple shape serves as a visual metaphor for the emotional weight of the child’s sadness. Derby’s flowing application of paint conjures a sea of emotions, and the paintings appear as if viewed through a wall of tears. Well-placed pops of bright color are both striking and uplifting. As father and child (both present White) hug, talk, and walk hand in hand under a sweeping sky, the gorilla fades into the distance.Luminous. (Picture book. 4-8)
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly
Reading Level: 1.0
Interest Level: P-2

This profoundly moving tale about a grieving boy and an imaginary gorilla makes real the power of talking about loss.

On the day of his mother’s funeral, a young boy conjures the very visitor he needs to see: a gorilla. Wise and gentle, the gorilla stays on to answer the heart-heavy questions the boy hesitates to ask his father: Where did his mother go? Will she come back home? Will we all die? Yet with the gorilla’s friendship, the boy slowly begins to discover moments of comfort in tending flowers, playing catch, and climbing trees. Most of all, the gorilla knows that it helps to simply talk about the loss—especially with those who share your grief and who may feel alone, too. Author Jackie Azúa Kramer’s quietly thoughtful text and illustrator Cindy Derby’s beautiful impressionistic artwork depict how this tender relationship leads the boy to open up to his father and find a path forward. Told entirely in dialogue, this direct and deeply affecting picture book will inspire conversations about grief, empathy, and healing beyond the final hope-filled scene.


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