“Away” in this case means “in prison.”
In an unlikely opening, young Milly first learns from taunting schoolmates that her father’s been jailed. Devastated, she receives information (“He stole something that didn’t belong to him”) from her mum as well as support from her teacher. She visits her dad so that he can read stories to her (he later sends more on a CD), sees him again at Christmas and, eventually, joyfully welcomes him home after his release. The brief episode’s sober tone is reflected in Littlewood’s loose, equally subdued scenes of redheaded figures—eyes generally cast down or to the side—exchanging hugs and sad smiles. Though written by an Irish librarian and storyteller and originally published in Great Britain, this import is generic enough to offer recognizable experiences, as well as a measure of comfort, to children with incarcerated parents on this side of the pond. Appended Web-based resources include both U.K. and U.S. organizations.
Bland but therapeutic and, sadly, all too useful. (Picture book. 5-7)