Always Sisters: A Story of Loss and Love

S. & S. Aug. 2023. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781665901567.
PreS-Gr 2–A heartrending and heartfelt work from the perspective of a child who has lost a sibling because of pregnancy loss. Raya and her family are excitedly anticipating the birth of a little sister. The narrator likes playing with her little brother, but he bothers her, too. Raya makes plans on what she’ll do with Nura when she’s bornrun through the sprinklers, eat ice cream, and give Nura piggyback rides. But when her parents get home from a doctor’s appointment in tears, they share that Nura won’t be coming home after all. Raya is devastated and confused. The adults in her life help Raya with her griefshe draws pictures, sees a guidance counselor, attends a grief group with other kids, and plants a tree in Nura’s memory. Mir respects and understands her audience, and it shows in the simple but honest text. Maydani’s chalk pastel and watercolor illustrations are affecting. The blurred and soft images (with lots of pinks, oranges, and greens) give the girl’s narration an ephemeral quality. When she is immersed in her grief, Raya’s figure becomes a dark silhouette. The text and images work together seamlessly, and the pages are designed thoughtfully, with strategic white space and evenly paced and powerful page turns.
VERDICT There aren’t many offerings on this topic, and none as effective or beautiful. An excellent choice for all SEL collections.

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