So, unless you've been living under a rock for the past 17 years, you've heard of (and probably read 100 times) The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn and illustrator Nancy M. Leak. A great, classic story about the love between a mother and child. Penn has released the fifth book featuring Chester Raccoon and his mother, focusing on an incredibly difficult topic for children, again infused with the love of Mrs. Raccoon, titled Chester Raccoon and the Acorn of Memorie
Centering around the death of a classmate and how a young child (or, I suppose, Raccoon in this story) deals with loss and the concept of remembering a friend we are presented the tough topic in a gentle and easy-to-understand manner. Questions that children will most likely have, such as "Why can't he play anymore" and "How do you make a memory" are answered subtly and with ease.
Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed at the length of the story, as most pages had several paragraphs (even if they were short paragraphs, they were still paragraphs), making it a bit long for a picture book. On a topic such as this one, lacking in excitement and focusing on the serious, a long story is going to allow time for children to lose focus.
I also have to be a little critical on the illustrations. Though some may absolutely love the pictures, I was disappointed, as the images appeared almost computer generated. Not that illustrations of that nature are a bad thing, but I've seen illustrator Barbara L. Gibson's work in A Pocket Full of Kisses, the sequel to The Kissing Hand, and it was right along the lines of the original story with a classic, beautiful feel. And this latest book's illustrations seems to be a bit generic and cartoonish (which is fine, I guess I'm just partial to the older books). I also haven't looked at the other middle books in the series, so they may be the same way.
That being said, the plot and the overall subject matter is most important and when dealing with the loss of a loved one, Chester Raccoon and the Acorn of Memories would be a great resource. When not comparing it to the other books in the series, it's a nice stand alone.
Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories
Review copy received from publisher
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