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When We Are Apart
Becca Johnsey, illus. by Marižan. BiblioKid, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-955767-37-8
An unnamed child learns to regulate their feelings around a parent’s work-related absence in this approachable picture book written in the second person. Straightforward rhyming lines outline a white-presenting family’s home life when “sometimes for work,/ your daddy’s away,” tracing the child’s feelings of frustration and longing (“You miss him so much./ More than you can say”) while asking age-appropriate questions about the change (“Why can’t he be home?/ When will he come back?”). A moment of sadness and anger leads to the youth knocking over a block tower, and then grounding themself in the form of a hug with Mommy, some deep breaths, a routine snack, and a centering moment with a watch—“a token of his love, when he’s not here.” A phone call with Dad offers further reassurance, as does an acknowledgment of the situation’s difficulty for everyone involved. Subtly working in visual military references, Marižan’s fine-lined, mellow-hued digital illustrations reinforce the text’s assuring tone. It’s a gentle, ritual-based introduction to a difficult-to-grasp concept. An author’s note offers background information on the story and provides a list of activities to pass time in a parent’s absence. Ages 3–5. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 03/03/2023

Release date 01/01/2023