With the help of family, friends, and passing time, Stella learns that “every goodbye… / …leads to a hello.”
The old adage “every ending leads to a new beginning” springs warmly to life as Doerrfeld’s gentle prose and soft, lively illustrations meander through an idyllic childhood. Young Stella may be reluctant to leave Mom and venture to school, but Stella quickly finds a best friend in bespectacled Charlie, and the two become inseparable. As seasons pass, they bid goodbye to beloved times and pastimes only to joyfully usher in new ones: Playing outside becomes playing inside, winter becomes summer, day becomes night. The repetitive prose pattern breaks hauntingly in the throes of Stella’s grief when Charlie moves away. Resilience, however, is this story’s driving force, and an ending montage of Stella mailing drawings to Charlie and meeting a new friend assures readers that every goodbye does, in truth, lead to a hello. Doerrfeld’s characteristically smudgy, minimalist renderings of homes, getaway spots, and school scenes replete with a racially diverse cast imbue the story with an intimate, timeless feel; Stella is South Asian, and Charlie presents white. If the text is occasionally somewhat saccharine in its optimism, it nonetheless celebrates the ups and downs of life with remarkable heart.
A warming study of friendship, loss, and new friendship. (Picture book. 4-8)