Male Role Models

Two engaging books of fiction portray nurturing grandfathers helping their grandsons come to terms with losses. In Paula Fox’s Radiance Descending (DK Ink), a boy has to unlearn his practice of ignoring his younger brother with Down’s Syndrome, a brother whose arrival turned the family’s life upside down. In Sun & Spoon (Greenwillow) by Kevin Menkes (famed for Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse), the narrating boy longs for a souvenir of his grandma who recently died. And, finally, one question it is hard not to ask: in 1998 when an ancient Jewish legend is retold—as in the picture book You Never Know: A Legend of the Lamed Vavniks by Francine Prose, illustrated by Mark Powdal—where are the females among the 36 righteous of the world?