Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Review: Hazelnut Days by Emmanuel Bourdier and Zao


It’s visiting day, and Dad smells like peppermint—yuck! If only he would wear that nice, breezy cologne that smells like hazelnut... So begins one boy’s brief weekly visit with his father in prison. Here’s a man who gets angry, but beneath that peppermint surface is much to admire, if only you take the time to look. This richly imagined picture book explores the inner life of a boy who struggles to love a father who can be difficult to love at times. Though they may only have brief visits together, it’s clear they love each other. This story bravely explores the all-too-hidden world of incarcerated parents. It’s also a beautiful testament to the power of love to bridge the walls that divide us.

This is not a book to read out loud to a class (unless special circumstances dictate), nor is it a fun story to read amongst your Robert Munsch and Elephant and Piggie picks. It is an important book to have on hand, however, if you are a librarian - one of those books that you don't need until you need it, and then you need it now.

There is not a sunny, happy ending, but there is hope and moving forward. The boy's parents are both allowed to be human beings, a mix of good and bad characteristics. The narrative is driven by the boy's feelings and perceptions, giving much-needed validation to any other youngster in a similar situation. There are a growing number of books being published for children of incarcerated parents, and this is definitely one of the better ones.

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