Author(s): Nan Blanchard; Giselle Clarkson (illus)
Six-year-old Hazel tends her colony of shoebox snails while observing, with varying degrees of understanding, her father's illness and final decline.
Nan Blanchard's assured eye is a rare quality in a new writer; seldom has the world of a young child been so delicately or acutely observed. Impending loss forms the heart of this story, but it's charming and funny, too. Richly rewarding and cleverly layered, adults will be as drawn to it as children.
Six-year-old Hazel tends her colony of 10 snails in a shoebox while observing, with varying degrees of understanding, her father's illness and final decline.
This charming story of Hazel's disintegrating world, as seen through the eyes of a young child, is told with warmth, sympathy and humour as she navigates the changes in her family and the often baffling ways of adults while the hot summer days roll by.
Blanchard's characters and the descriptions of Hazel's everyday situations are totally believable, from singing with Dad while hanging out the washing, to cooling off at the beach with her grandmothers, to sobbing uncontrollably when she accidentally crushes one of her pets.
Blanchard, a professional clinician, tackles the delicate subject of death in her debut novel with huge compassion. More character than plot-driven, it is a beautiful story about loss and friendship, with a most endearing heroine, and is just perfect for ages 5 to 9 as either a read-aloud or to read independently.