In this illustrated children’s book, a grieving little girl dreams of flying to heaven to see her mother.
Layla is a little girl whose mother has died. She believes that her mother is in heaven and wishes she could grow wings or fly on the back of a bird so she could reach paradise and see her again. One night, Layla has a wonderful dream that makes her wish come true. She grows delightful, fairylike wings, flies past the stars, and reaches a beautiful bright light, which she realizes is her mother’s love. Layla’s mother embraces her warmly, wrapping them in her own wings, making the girl very happy. The next morning, Layla asks her wise old grandmother about the captivating dream. Was it true? Her grandmother explains that “love is the light that shows the way” and “love is the reason angels have wings,” then wraps Layla in a big hug as they cry sad and joyful tears. Layla feels safe and loved. She does, of course, still pine for her mother, but her grandmother helps her use the dream to envision her parent’s affection being present in vibrant, cheerful things like sunlight and bird song. Kaufman (Bird That Wants to Fly, 2014, etc.), a board-certified pediatrician and psychiatrist with a specialty in child psychiatry, is the founder and director of Arts Medicine for Health & Healing, which focuses on transforming trauma through creativity. With her grandmother’s help, Layla’s imagination soothes her grief, which could be comforting for young readers. But it can be hard for children to accept heaven as an inviting place to go when adults are mourning intensely; it’s unclear how long past Layla’s mother’s death that the work is set or how fresh the sorrow is. Hutton’s lovely, soft-edged illustrations, full of prettily colored birds, butterflies, and flowers, add a magical effect to the story. In addition, Layla and her grandmother could be multiracial, allowing many different child readers to see themselves depicted in the volume.
Aimed at families who believe in an afterlife, this tale shows the healing effects of dreams and imagination.