“THE SCAR,” by Charlotte Moundlic, illustrated by Olivier Tallec, Candlewick Press, Nov. 8, 2011, $14.99 (ages 5 and up)
Losing a loved one is never easy, but it’s even harder for a young child, who doesn’t necessarily understand everything but understands more than adults think.
In “The Scar,” by Charlotte Moundlic, we meet one such little boy.
A little boy’s mother has just passed away. She actually died during the night, but to him, it was the morning because he was asleep when she slipped away. Mom tried to explain to him what was going to happen, that she was going away forever. The boy knew she was really going to die.
When the boy comes downstairs in the morning, his dad says, “She’s gone forever.” But the boy knows she’s not gone; she’s dead. He knows dying means his mother is never coming back.
The boy is fairly sure Dad won’t know how to manage without Mom, and so he promises to take care of his father. The boy is struggling. He doesn’t want to open the windows because it will make Mom’s smell disappear. He barely remembers her voice.
One day, the boy falls when running on the garden wall and scratches his knee. As he’s examining his wound, he hears his mother’s voice and the pain disappears. After a scab appears, he pulls it off. As long as there is blood, he tells himself, he can still hear Mom’s voice.
When Grandma comes to visit, she stirs things up, and the boy really thinks Mom is going to disappear. But Grandma explains that Mom is in his heart, and she’s not going anywhere. Grandma is old, so what she says must be right. But just to make sure, the boy runs until his muscles hurt and it’s hard to breathe — then he can feel Mom beating very hard in his chest.
As things begin to return to a new normal, the boy realizes his scab has turned into a scar, and he’s OK with that.
“The Scar” is one of the sweetest, saddest and most beautiful picture books you may come across. Author Chalotte Moundlic captures the pure, raw emotion of loss in a way that everyone can relate to. She also moves beyond the grief with humor and grace that even a small child will recognize.
There is quite a bit of text in “The Scar,” but it works. Well-edited the story is told from the boy’s point of view and every emotion plays out perfectly in sync with expressive illustrations. Olivier Tallec’s artwork utilizes the color red to not only show anger and frustration, but also hurt and love.
Loneliness and emotional truth play out in this tender story. Though the main character is a child, “The Scar” will speak to anyone who has experienced loss. It may also be helpful for children whose friends are going through the same experience.
Never heavy handed, “The Scar” will make you laugh and cry. It helps open barriers and sets the stage for healing.
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