Dear Mr. G

Union Square. Apr. 2023. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781454944171.
K-Gr 3–Jackson, a seven-year-old boy with black hair and tan skin, and his senior neighbor, Mr. Graham, who has dark brown skin, form a cross-generational friendship told through letters and pictures. The opening pages start with a tone of forgiveness, as Jackson apologizes for kicking a ball into Mr. G’s roses. From there, Mr. G teaches Jackson how to tend the roses in his garden, and they find commonalities between their life stories. Through pictures, readers see Mr. G being transported to an assisted living facility while using a wheelchair, as Jackson agrees via letter to take good care of his roses in the meantime. In the end, the rose bush dies, and Mr. G sends one final letter of comfort to Jackson explaining that they will bloom again, and that “they’re always there, even if you can’t see them.” It’s clear that Mr. G dies as well. The illustrations use a soft palette, and watercolor medium, to accompany the gentle nature of the story. With storytelling conveyed primarily through letters, Evans is able to emphasize that there are always things we share across generations and cultures. This book will encourage children to explore unlikely friendships, as well as introduce the topic of grief and loss. It could also serve as an introduction to the benefits of pen pal friendships, from the perspectives of both parties.
VERDICT A moving tale that touches on topics of patience, love, and loss. A worthy purchase for all libraries.

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