Every morning, Grandmother says goodbye to a little girl after they walk to school—until one day, Grandmother says her final goodbye.
The book’s unnamed girl spends idyllic days with her grandmother from China, learning how to measure water for rice, listening to stories about China long ago, and eating pickled plums. Digital paintings in a muted palette of grays, pinks, and greens convey their quiet relationship. One day, Grandmother stops walking the girl to school and a sadness falls upon the household. Then, abruptly, Grandmother’s room is empty, and “A few days later, my grandmother is buried.” That night, the family follows a Chinese tradition to welcome their loved one’s spirit home for a final goodbye. Quan’s simple portrayal of a loving intergenerational bond draws readers in emotionally, but it lacks important details. Has the grandmother been living with the family for a long time, or was it, as the title suggests, a visit? It is unclear whether or not Grandmother fell ill, if she had dementia (she sometimes forgot her house keys), or how much time has passed between each scene. While the book is a sensitive portrayal of the death of a loved one, including an ending with closure, the story lacks contextual details, resulting in more questions.
This sweet and gentle story about losing a loved one is emotionally lovely but likely to require some interpretation on the parts of caregivers. (Picture book. 4-8)