A child loses their mother, but part of her spirit stays, colorfully embodied.
“Something very beautiful and strange happened when Mama was told she was sick. She came home from the hospital with a magical creature.” The creature’s huge and calm, with floppy ears, a soft texture, and comfortingly unruly fur. Pinks and yellows color its body; tidbits of various hues twinkle around it like stars. Mama’s type of “sick” isn’t defined, and the text says only that she “slips away” and “is gone”; some readers may need help understanding that she dies. The creature—who lives on with the family post-bereavement—is somehow part of Mama, though the equation’s not made specific. The cover tagline (“Losing a loved one doesn’t mean losing their love”) and author’s note convey that the creature is Mama’s love, but the text is cryptic: “The creature is strong, like the strongest part of her. The part that loves me so much.” What’s abundantly clear, though, is that this creature brings warmth and color to a mourning household. Aside from the creature, Heath’s small, gentle drawings are mostly black and white except when the creature’s colors flow onto other beings and objects. Copious white space surrounds the illustrations, showing that nothing matters here except loving Mama, losing her, and finding beauty again afterward. Child, Mama, and the remaining parent all have pale skin.
Enigmatic—but warm and almost oddly optimistic. (Picture book. 3-8)