In Reid’s (The Student Councilor, 2010, etc.) children’s picture book and simple parenting guide, the impending birth of a fatherless child sparks lessons in positivity and spiritual healing.
This book, set in an imagined island village and illustrated in a saturated watercolor palette, is dedicated “To All the Single Parents for Their Strength and Courage.” The author delivers her messages of reinforcement in the style of a multicultural folk tale. The sun, she explains in her introduction, symbolizes an absent parent, who “for one reason or another,” plays no part in the life of the child. The story begins when the sun vanishes before the birth of a little girl named Arina. The unhappy, anxious mother seeks out a magician, who helps her understand that love hasn’t “disappeared with the sun” and informs her that the light of love is found in thoughts of happiness and gratitude. After Arina bathes in her mother’s newfound positive energy, her birth results in so much light and love that people come from all over the world to witness the miracle. From here, however, the story’s folk-tale charm gives way to a prosaic tone. In a kind but firm, teacherly fashion, the book becomes frankly instructive—so much so that when the now older Arina has a tantrum, her mother gives her a timeout and counsels her to “Never be mean or say negative things about anyone,” to focus on the positive, never judge others, be thankful, and to let her inner light shine on “forever.” This works for Arina, but real children may feel somewhat burdened by such a weighty panoply of expectations. That said, Lemaire’s (The Adventure of Maesee Peek, 2016, etc.) pleasant, page-filling illustrations maintain the book’s visual continuity, interspersed with blocks of text set against vibrantly colored backgrounds.
A well-meaning book that loses its folkloric appeal in its obvious messages.