Eileen Pollack’s Whisper Whisper Jesse, Whisper Whisper Josh: A Story About AIDS (1992)

Whisper Whisper Jesse, Whisper Josh: A Story About AIDSWhisper Whisper Jesse, Whisper Whisper Josh: A Story About AIDS (1992), written by Eileen Pollack and illustrated by Bruce Gilfoy, is an early picture books that explores a young boy’s experience processing grief after losing his uncle to AIDS.

The text-heavy story pairs wordy prose with detailed sketches of a boy as he describes the secrets and whispers that fill his home. Unlike most stories that explore similar themes and foreground the close relationship between uncle and nephew or niece, Jesse is estranged from his Uncle Josh and only meets him after he becomes ill. Jesse’s mother explains that his father and uncle had a fight, but the reader, like the child, never learns why. Jesse’s sick uncle moves in with the family, which makes his mother happy, because she missed her brother, Josh. Continue reading