Snowdrops for Cousin Ruth
by Susan Katz
Simon & Schuster, $16. Ages 8-10.
In this engaging first novel, Susan Katz uses a child’s perspective to describe how a family deals with a youngster’s death and gradually accepts joy back into their home. Johanna was in third grade when her younger brother, Johnny, was killed by a car that spun out of control on an icy road. His twin sister stopped talking and his parents stopped laughing, but Johanna refused to forget the happy times with her brother. She began to imagine him beside her making the same silly comments that he used to and is the first to learn that her brother continues to live in her heart. Death and mourning (and recovering from the intensity of grief) are difficult concepts for children to grasp; this book is an excellent tool for teaching about these complex issues.