Small Things Mended

Penguin/Rocky Pond. Mar. 2024. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593529812.
K-Gr 3–This is a soft and gentle book sharing the importance of community and friendship in healing a broken heart. The story begins with Cecil, an elderly man with a “good eye,” who hears the laughter of his young neighbor, Lily. When a cartwheel causes Lily’s watch to break, Cecil promises he will try to fix it to make her smile again. When he is successful, news quickly spreads just as Cecil also remembers how much he enjoyed fixing things. In the end, a pink elephant with a broken heart helps Cecil unlock his own path to happiness. There is much a young reader might miss in this nuanced tale. The story doesn’t explicitly say that Cecil is sad and lonely, but Whitesides’s translucent watercolors show framed photos of a spouse no longer there.
VERDICT While on the surface this appears to be a quiet and muted narrative, it can spark lengthy discussions about the importance of community, the beauty of fixing things rather than discarding them, and the path to healing after immeasurable loss.

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