In Part One, I reviewed When Someone You Love Has Cancer, The Cancer That Wouldn’t Go Away, Why Does Mommy Hurt?, and How Many Marbles Do You Have? Here are some more of my favourites.
Disclaimer: I paid full price for these books and make no money if you click on any of the links.
Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings
Written By Ellen McVicker, Illustrated by Nanci Hersh
Cousins Nanci Hersh and Ellen McVicker put this book together after Ellen wrote the text to help Nanci explain her cancer diagnosis to her young boys – 3 and 5 years old at the time. Several years later (in remission) Nanci, an award-winning artist, agreed to illustrate the text and they decided to share it. The result is a beautiful, hopeful story for helping children cope with a parent’s diagnosis.
The text is written in first person from the child’s perspective. It walks through diagnosis and initial conversations about what cancer is, what different treatment options there are and the uncertainty of the future. The child wonders, did they cause this? can they catch cancer? and those concerns are addressed. The child learns ways they can help and support Mom and that hugs and kisses – especially butterfly kisses – are what she needs most. The range of emotions a child might experience are discussed and simple and effectively illustrated as child’s drawings. The story is sweet and lovely. In the back, there are reviews and one mom notes her six year old asked ‘How did they know what I was thinking?’ after reading the book.
Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings is available from Amazon for $12.95.
Let My Colors Out
Written by Courtney Filigenzi, Illustrated by Shennen Bersani
Let My Colors Out features a boy and his mom and the child’s feelings about his mom’s cancer. There are the purple times when he feels scared and the blue times when he feels sad. He sees other families that don’t have cancer and feels green, and he loves the yellow days when he feels fine, happy and when mom feels better too. There are orange days when he wants to pretend nothing’s wrong, and red days when he is angry. On the last page, Mom, Dad and boy are shown releasing a bouquet of balloons into the sky, each a different colour, and the text says:
I don’t have to feel guilty or ashamed about my feelings.
They are a part of me. I can let my feelings go. I can let my colours out.
Published by the American Cancer Society, the book is a hard board book, sturdy for younger children. The balloons are ‘pop-up’ at the end. The family in this book is depicted with dark skin, something I haven’t seen in many books.
The Invisible String
Written by Patrice Karst, Illustrated by Geoff Stevenson
In The Invisible String, Liza and Jeremy, twins, are asleep when they are awakened and frightened by a storm. They run to their mother and are hesitant to return to bed – they want to stay close to her. She sits down with them and tells them that they are always together, no matter what. She shows them the INVISIBLE STRING. It connects them, heart to heart. When they are apart, Mom tells them their love travels all the way down the string to tug on her heart. When she tugs back, they feel it. The string connects pets and friends, and reaches deep into the ocean and high onto mountains. The string reaches an uncle in Heaven. The string doesn’t go away when Mom is mad, or when they fight with each other. Love is stronger than anger. The twins return to bed, thinking of all the strings they have, the people they love, and all of the strings THEY have and on and on, to see that everyone in the world is connected, and no one is ever alone.
I have frequently been hospitalised and we use this one to talk with our children about how I love them even when I am away. And yes, it builds a foundation for my eventual death, and that separation.
Stay tuned for Part Three, featuring books about Dads with cancer and a children’s activity book from the American Cancer Society.