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HER MOTHER’S FACE by Roddy Doyle


by Roddy Doyle & illustrated by Freya Blackwood

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-439-81501-7
Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

In Doyle’s first picture book, a girl matures in the shadow of grief. Siobhán’s mother died seven years ago, and she and her depressed father live in a rambling house full of memories but bereft of photos. Siobhán, now ten, remembers her mother’s hands and voice but not her face. Sitting under a park tree, she confides in a compassionate, mysterious woman, who advises that to see her mother’s face, she “should look in the mirror.” The story’s compression (Siobhán grows up and has a daughter), longish text and tinge of magical realism will charm some readers and possibly confuse others: The woman in the park (a figment? a vision?) whispers a message for Siobhán’s father that only her mother would know. Blackwood’s precise watercolor palette’s greens and reds visually link three generations of females through their sweetly detailed clothing and handed-down shoes and scarf. Siobhán’s father’s grey clothes and sadness remain, though the mystery woman’s message, which Siobhán remembers and utters years later, evokes a torrent of spoken, healing memories. Poignant. (Picture book. 5-8)