In this age of automaticity, electronic immediacy, and carpe diem, this book delivers a rare exultation: remember the Ancestors.
Silence, a child whom the villagers have cast out into the forest because she tried to climb the mountain to find her dead parents, now lives happily among nurturing trees. When the most ancient of the trees, Wonderboom, tells Silence she must return to the village to “save Yesterday,” at first she fails to understand how but reluctantly returns to the hostile village. Morning Star and Sun tell Silence what she must do, and with a scythe, she cuts a path up the mountainside, where the trees help her find glowing stones that she thinks must be her parents. Silence then shows the villagers how to honor their dead, for the Ancestors resent being forgotten. Lester sets this literary folk tale somewhere in Africa, where the villagers wear bright, patterned fabrics, the women wear beautiful head wraps, and all of the characters have dark brown skin. While Lester sprinkles interesting metaphors and similes on nearly every page, Angel paints the story to life with personified trees, an impressive array of topographies, and a girl who will stop at nothing to follow her instincts. When Silence speaks, change happens.
A powerful tale that should help children of all ages embrace the fact that dead does not have to mean gone. (Picture book. 4-9)