Too Far Away to Touch (1995), thoughtfully written by Lesléa Newman and movingly illustrated by Catherine Stock, follows a young girl as she processes her beloved uncle’s AIDS-related illness.
The child, Zoe, loves her uncle, Leonard, who takes her on adventures in New York City when he visits her. On one visit Zoe plans to tease him by pretending she’s found his lost marbles in his thick head of hair. Things don’t go quite as planned because he’s wearing a beret when he arrives, so Zoe saves the trick for later. Continue reading
Losing Uncle Tim, written by MaryKate Jordan and illustrated by Judith Friedman, was published by Albert Whitman & Company in 1989. It is narrated in the first person by a boy, Daniel, who is processing the illness and eventual death of his uncle due to an AIDS-related illness.
The story is breathtakingly painful. It beautifully captures the relationship between Daniel and his uncle, Tim, as well as Daniel’s deep emotions. Friedman’s illustrations, which face Jordan’s text, look like snapshots from a photo album. This technique provides a sense of intimacy and urgency as the story progresses. Continue reading
Tiger Flowers (1994)*, written by Patricia Quinlan and illustrated by Janet Wilson, is an emotionally engaging story told from the point of view of a boy who loses his uncle and his uncle’s partner from illnesses related to HIV/AIDS. The warm and accessible picture book directly engages HIV/AIDS but has a more subtle approach to addressing homosexuality.
Readers are introduced to the young boy, Joel, as his sister wakes him up to ask about their uncle Michael. Joel reminds her that Michael has died. Continue reading
Written by Christine A. Emery and illustrated by Kellie R. Emery, The Black Cloud Blues does the important work of acknowledging childhood depression. In doing so it makes a valuable contribution to children’s literature. Kellie Emery’s deliberate illustrations provide access to the unnamed narrator’s feelings as he takes readers on a journey into his experience with depression. Continue reading
In A Different Pond, author, Bao Phi, and illustrator, Thi Bui, both Vietnamese Americans, create a necessary and impactful story that is both a tribute to their working-class new immigrant childhoods and a valuable #OwnVoices contribution to children’s literature. The story is anchored in a purposeful fishing trip a father and son take to secure food for the family. Rich colors and a creative use of panels provide intimate portraits of the duo. Continue reading