This unusual story is about a little boy named William who, while taking a walk with his grandma, asks her if she is ever afraid. They then compare their fears. The little boy is afraid of typical things that scare kids, like angry dogs, stinging wasps, dangerous fires, sharks, wars, thunder and lightning.
The grandmother, amazingly honest for a kid’s book, points out the things she is afraid of, such as never again seeing flowers in bloom, or hearing the birds sing in the springtime. The boy doesn’t get it.
Grandma explains that when she was young, she had fears more like those of the little boy. Now that she is old, “I’m just afraid of losing everything I love.” She explains:
“‘When we get old, we die,’ says Grandma, ‘and then I won’t be able to see you anymore.’”
He asks, couldn’t she see him from wherever she goes? And couldn’t she then still see the flowers and birds, and “everything”?
“‘You are absolutely right,’” says Grandma.
So, the boy concludes, Grandma needn’t be afraid anymore:
“‘No, I don’t need to be,’ she smiles, ‘when I can see everything I love.’ She ruffles Willima’s hair a bit. ‘Maybe you’ll see me too?’ ‘I guess I will,’ William says, and smiles back.”
Illustratrator Akin Duzakin uses a soft focus and an alternating palette to contrast the fears of the boy and the grandmother. The overall tone is of warmth and comfort, especially in the pictures that close the story.
Evaluation: This books provides a very nice way to teach small children about the different perspectives of children and adults, and to open discussions about fears in general and about death in particular.
Published in the U.S. by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2015