COME WITH ME, by Holly M. McGhee and Pascal Lemaître, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, Sept. 5, 2017, Hardcover. $17.99 (ages 5-8)
As the parent of a small child, I find myself worrying about things in a new, different way than before. In my past life, I worked at a newspaper and then in a combined newspaper/television newsroom. I was a news junkie. I consumed the news all the time.
Having a child changed that for me. I don’t want her to see the news, to see the ugliness on social media and the Internet. It’s depressing and full of hate so I hide it from her.
In her latest picture book, Come With Me, Holly M. McGhee and illustrator Pascal Lemaître tackle the above with kindness, bravery and hope.
All over the world, the news told
of anger and hatred—
People against people.
And the little girl was frightened
by everything she heard
She asked her papa
if there was something
she could do
to make the world a better place.
Her papa said,
“Come with Me.”
So begins Holly’s lyrical text. Hand-in-hand the girl and her papa make their way to the subway, tipping hats to strangers. The next day the girl joins her mama shopping for dinner at the import market. Later, the girl walks her dog on her own and invites a neighbor to “come with me.”
Come With Me was born out of an 18-year-relationship between Holly and Pascal. After 9/11, Holly and her daughter found comfort in an illustration sent by Pascal. In 2016, Brussels, where Pascal lives, was attacked. Holly reached out to him, and they emailed every day. As they discussed seemingly normal activities — walking the dog, taking the subway, shopping in the Moroccan grocery store — it became clear that even the smallest of actions make a difference.
It was from these observations that Come With Me was created.
I came away from Come With Me with an overwhelming feeling of hope. And I began to look at people differently. While terrorist attacks brought this book about, right now, the political climate in the United States is not united. The anger and fear mongering is incessant. Racism is rearing its ugly head. But if you look for it, you begin to see these small actions, small kindnesses that go beyond differences and create a sense of calm.
Pascal’s sweet illustrations are set against a white backdrop, allowing the emotion to take center stage. And Holly’s prose is gentle and honest.
I wish a book like this did not have to exist, but I’m glad it does. It’s a great starting point for parents.
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