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THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN by Janna Matthies

THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN

By Janna Matthies (Author) , Kristi Valiant (Illustrator)

Age Range: 3 - 8

Pub Date: March 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8075-2994-2
Publisher: Whitman

A sunny story about how a family deals with the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Young Janie and Jeffrey have a lot of questions about their mother’s cancer, and the doctor tells them, “[W]e’re working very hard to make her better—probably by pumpkin time.” Janie decides to plant a garden in their yard—“Hello pumpkins, goodbye cancer!” The path of cancer and treatment is clearly explained in the text for very young readers—the operation, the chemo, the medical tests, the hair loss, the aches and exhaustion—as Janie and her family plan and plant the garden. Bright breezy illustrations show the family accepting the challenge with grace and optimism. However, the illustrations do not show any of the difficult side effects of chemo and surgery. Except for the very first page, Mom always has a sunny smile, even when newly bald. Friends cheerfully line up to help feed and care for the family, and the illness is painted as a little more than a bump in the road. Looking on the bright side is important when facing a cancer diagnosis, but the illustrations could have given a small nod to its challenges in order to make this book a little more realistic. (Picture book. 3-8)