The Tunnel

Owlkids. Mar. 2022. 32p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781771474276.
K-Gr 3–“Something bad happened. I don’t like to think about it,” a pale-skinned, dark-haired child narrates. “Now it’s just me and my mom in the quiet house.” The child doesn’t always feel like hugging, and doesn’t want to talk, so they begin to dig with a plastic shovel, right through the floor of their room. They tunnel down into the ground, meeting worms, beetles, and moles, until they pop up in the backyard, and can look into the house from the outside. Having dug an escape route, the child crawls back through the tunnel; that evening, they accept their mother’s hug and tell her, “I made a tunnel out of here. And then I came back.” Monochromatic illustrations emphasize the characters’ grief, while soft red notes of color draw the eye. That “what has happened” is not named only broadens the scope of this story.
VERDICT Both metaphor and meditation, this touching, lovely story is a conversation-opener between children and caregivers dealing with loss; it recognizes the need to be alone, as well as the merits and comfort of finding one’s way to loved ones.

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